Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
May 31, 2022

Rape Allegations Against Russian Troops In Ukraine Were Fake

There is a first and still very low noise signal that the Zelenski regime in Kiev is coming apart.

Six weeks ago there were suddenly many claims that Russian soldiers in Ukraine had raped people.

Time headlined:

Ukrainians Who Have Been Raped by Russian Troops Are Refusing to Stay Silent

Ukraine’s human rights ombudsman, Lyudmyla Denisova said that 25 teenage girls were kept in a basement in Bucha and gang-raped; nine of them are now pregnant. Elderly women spoke on camera about being raped by Russian soldiers. The bodies of children were found naked with their hands tied behind their backs, their genitals mutilated. Those victims included both girls and boys, and Ukrainian men and boys have been sexually assaulted in other incidents. A group of Ukrainian women POWs had their heads shaved in Russian captivity, where they were also stripped naked and forced to squat.

Eager anti-Russian activists were spreading those dubious claims:

Julia Ioffe @juliaioffe - 23:21 UTC · Apr 20, 2022
"25 teenage girls were gang-raped; 9 are now pregnant. Elderly women spoke about being raped by Russian soldiers. The bodies of children were found naked with their hands tied behind their backs, their genitals mutilated." A harrowing read, by @Amie_FR. Link to Time report

Quoting Julia Joffe's tweet I immediately dismissed those claims:

Moon of Alabama @MoonofA - 8:44 UTC · Apr 21, 2022
Such accusations of mass rape by the enemy de jour are made in every war (Libya, Syria) . They rarely turn out to be true.
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/2011_Libyan_rape_allegations

It turns out that my hunch was right:

Christopher Miller @ChristopherJM - 15:17 UTC · May 31, 2022
Ukraine's parliament just fired human rights ombudsman Lyudmila Denisova. MPs claimed her work focusing on the rape of Ukrainians by Russian troops which "couldn't be confirmed with evidence [...] only harmed Ukraine and distracted the global media from Ukraine's real needs."

238 MPs voted her out. Other complaints were that Denisova had failed to organize humanitarian corridors and POW exchanges, and that she had spent time in "warm Western Europe" during the invasion "but not in Russia or Belarus, where her status and powers could help prisoners."

Lyudmila Denisova had made lots of sensational claims about Russian soldiers:

Ukraine's human-rights commissioner said on Tuesday that investigators had heard more than 400 allegations of sexual violence, including rape, of Ukrainians by Russian soldiers in the space of two weeks.
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"There are two features," Denisova said.

First, she said, the allegations generally involve young soldiers between 20 and 25 years old. "That is, those who just grew up on Putin's rule, on his propaganda," she said.

Second, the soldiers are typically accused of committing rape in public or in view of others, she said. She gave an example of a 25-year-old woman who said she was made to watch the rape of her 16-year-old sister and begged that they rape her instead.

"We need help for both," said Denisova. She went on to describe the alleged rapes of two 11-year-olds, a girl and a boy, and a 14-year-old.

She said she had received a report that the 11-year old girl was raped after sneaking out to pick flowers in Hostomel, a city northwest of Kyiv that has been under heavy assault. She said the girl "remembers only the beginning, and then remembers nothing, only when she was knocked to the ground."

Back then the rape allegations were part of the Ukrainian propaganda campaign:

Ukrainian Foreign Minister Dmytro Kuleba said on Friday that Russian soldiers had committed rape in Ukrainian cities.

Kuleba did not give any evidence for his claim. Reuters was unable to independently verify the claim.

"When bombs fall on your cities, when soldiers rape women in the occupied cities - and we have numerous cases of, unfortunately, when Russian soldiers rape women in Ukrainian cities - it's difficult, of course, to speak about the efficiency of international law," Kuleba told an event at Chatham House in London.

However, a bunch of eager NGOs in Ukraine, hoping for fresh 'western' money for new 'rape consultation and recovery' projects, tried to find real rape cases. They were disappointed when they found that there was no evidence that any rape had taken place (machine translation):

On May 25, a number of media outlets and NGOs published an open appeal to Lyudmila Denisova calling for improved communication on sexual crimes during the war.

The signatories insist that Denisova should disclose only information about which there is sufficient evidence, avoid sensationalism and excessive detail in their reports, use correct terminology and take care of the confidentiality and safety of victims.

"Sexual crimes during the war are family tragedies, a difficult traumatic topic, not a topic for publications in the spirit of the 'scandalous chronicle.' We need to keep in mind the goal: to draw attention to the facts of crimes, "the appeal reads.

Other reason cited for firing Denisova were her extensive stays in west Europe during the war and her neglect of negotiations with Russia about prisoner exchanges and other humanitarian issues:

[Deputy Chairman of the Standing Committee the Verkhovna Rada Pavlo] Frolov also noted that since the beginning of the war and the great suffering of Ukrainians, Denisova has hardly exercised her authority to organize humanitarian corridors, protect and exchange prisoners, oppose the deportation of people and children from the occupied territories, and other human rights activities.

The incomprehensible concentration of the ombudsman's media work on numerous details of "unnatural sexual crimes" and "rape of children" in the occupied territories, which could not be confirmed by evidence, only harmed Ukraine and distracted the world media from Ukraine's real needs.

After February 24, the current Verkhovna Rada Commissioner for Human Rights spent abroad, but not in Russia or Belarus, where her status and powers could help prisoners, deportees and victims of the occupation of Kherson, and in Davos, Vienna, Warsaw and other warm Western Europe.

Denisova had become too embarrassing. Her firing seems to be part of a remake of the Ukraine propaganda campaign. Here is another data point from The London Times  that points into this direction:

Azov Battalion drops neo-Nazi symbol exploited by Russian propagandists (not satire)

The Azov Battalion has removed a neo-Nazi symbol from its insignia that has helped perpetuate Russian propaganda about Ukraine being in the grip of far-right nationalism.

At the unveiling of a new special forces unit in Kharkiv, patches handed to soldiers did not feature the wolfsangel, a medieval German symbol that was adopted by the Nazis and which has been used by the battalion since 2014.

This reminds one of al-Qaida in Syria which was relabeled to Jabhat al-Nusra before being named Jabhat Fatah al-Sham and ended up being called Hayat Tahrir al-Sham. Names and symbols changed. But all the time the leadership, ideology and behavior of the group stayed the same.

Rebranding of radical groups to make them more acceptable in 'western' media happens all the time. Here are two more Moon of Alabama headlines about similar product name changes:

To summarize:

  • The rape allegations against Russian soldiers in Ukraine were made up and false.
  • The Ukrainian propagandist responsible for them has been fired.
  • Ukraine and its Nazi stormtroopers of the Azov battalion are correcting their appearance to become more acceptable for the 'western' public.

Nothing of the above will change the cold fact that Ukraine and the 'west' are losing in their war against Russia.

Posted by b on May 31, 2022 at 16:18 UTC | Permalink | Comments (315)

May 30, 2022

Ukraine Bits: Russian Artillery - Counter Attacks - New Missile Systems

The amount of copium available for Ukraine fans seems to be dwindling.

More mainstream media now report on the huge damage the Russian artillery is causing to the Ukrainian frontline troops. Even the New York Times joined in:

Under the fire of Russia’s long-range arsenal and facing a desperate need for ammunition and weapons, Ukrainian forces remain outgunned on the long and pockmarked eastern front, according to military analysts, Ukrainian officials and soldiers on the ground.

Just one engagement on Thursday and Friday on a small swath of the line, in a forest north of the town of Sloviansk, sent about a dozen Ukrainian soldiers to a military hospital with harrowing shrapnel wounds.

“You ask how the fighting is going,” said Oleksandr Kolesnikov, the commander of a company of soldiers fighting in the forest, interviewed on an ambulance gurney outside a military hospital in Kramatorsk. “There was a commander of the company. He was killed. There was another commander. He was killed. A third commander was wounded. I am the fourth.”

Another example from the Washington Post:

“Seventy people from my battalion were injured in the last week,” said a soldier and ambulance driver just outside the hospital gates who identified himself only as Vlad, 29. “I lost too many friends; it’s hard for me. I don’t know how many. … It’s getting worse every day.”

The night before, he said, the shelling was so loud he hardly got any sleep. “It’s all artillery bombing down,” he said. “All the wounded are coming from shrapnel. Most guys in the trenches haven’t even seen the enemy face-to-face.

Since beginning of the war I have pointed to the huge amount of artillery Russian forces are traditionally using.

'Western' doctrine, which is essentially U.S. doctrine, is betting on air supremacy. The enemy's air defenses get destroyed in first few days of the war. After that enemy formations get wiped out by applying a huge amount of aerial bombing against them.

Russian doctrine never has believed in air supremacy. Russia itself has excellent air defenses so it knows what it is talking about. To destroy enemy formations Russia applies artillery, lots of it.

A standard U.S. brigade combat team (BCT) has two or three battalions with tanks or infantry as front formations and one battalion of artillery to support them. The rest of the brigade troops are various support units.


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Instead of a 3 to 1 ratio of front formations to artillery formation Russian units have a 1 to 1 ration. Russian Motor Rifles brigades also have two or three battalions as front formations but they also have three artillery battalions with various guns and missiles to support those.


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This 1 to 1 ration is repeated on nearly every level - battalion, brigade, division, army - of Russian ground forces. Here is how it looks when it gets applied.

Unless the defending forces are fully under armor or extremely well dug in, as they had been for eight years at the Donetsk frontline, they have no hope to hold out against Russian artillery. Since the Russian army broke through the immediate frontline the Ukrainians have lost the protection of fortified dugouts and are on the run.

None of the above is new and it was the reason why I and other could easily predicted that the Ukrainian army would lose the war.

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After for months hyping Ukrainian victories that had never happened 'western' headlines now finally acknowledge the real state of the war:

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Ukrainian media are still not allowed to report on the real state of the war.

Ukrinform headlines:

Ukrainian army launches offensive in Kherson region

Ukrainian forces have launched an offensive in the Kherson region, with Russian invaders suffering losses and defending on unfavorable positions.

The press service of the General Staff of the Armed Forces of Ukraine said this on Facebook, Ukrinform reports.

"As a result of offensive actions by units of the Defense Forces, the enemy suffered losses and started defending on unfavorable positions near Andriivka, Lozove and Bilohirka, Kherson region. Fighting continues.

While that item carries today's date the action described in it actually happened Saturday and Sunday on the south western front line.


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A several hundred men strong group of Ukrainian troops with armored vehicles crossed a bridge in Davydiv Brid over a river that delimits the Russian held territory in the south west from the Ukrainian held one. The group was tasked with pushing some 60 kilometers south to reach and sabotage the Dnepr dam west of Kherson.


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After progressing some 10 kilometers south a column of some 20 vehicles got clobbered by Russian artillery. The rest dispersed into the country side and is currently getting hunted down.

The whole operation had failed within a few hours. For the pre-planned mission it was way too small and attacked on a too narrow front. The Russian command decided that the planners of the brazen but useless Ukrainian operation deserved additional punishment:

Missile troops and artillery have hit 62 command posts, including those of Operational Command South near Novy Bug, Nikolaev Region, as well as 593 areas of AFU manpower and military equipment concentration and 55 artillery and mortar batteries at firing positions.

Novy Bug can be seen at the upper left of the second map. Ukraine confirmed that it has been attacked.

In total the Russian side claims that 200 Ukrainian troops died in the failed attempt while an additional 35 were killed in the strike on the South Command of the Ukrainian army.

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The write ups about supreme Russian artillery quoted above are of course in support of the U.S. intent to send multiple rocket launcher (HIMARS) to Ukraine. These can, in theory, fire on targets from up to 300 kilometer away. However, Ukraine would only get ammunition for significantly shorter ranges of about 30 km:

Some White House officials had expressed concern that providing MLRS weaponry with a range of more than 180 miles would allow Ukrainian forces to hit targets far into Russian territory, potentially prompting an escalatory response from Moscow, but the White House is now comfortable managing that risk by withholding the longest-range ammunition for the system, a senior U.S. official told The Post.

With 300 kilogram each missile has significant weight. A truck with HIMARS can carry 6 of those while a tracked vehicle version carries 12. Resupplying these in significant numbers will be a logistic nightmare.

The White House has yet to say how many HIMARS it will send to Ukraine.

The Russian equivalents to HIMARS are the BM-27 Uragan and BM-30 Smerch systems. At the beginning of the war Ukraine had some 70 Uragan and some 80 Smerch systems. Most of those are by now gone.

It is highly unlikely that the U.S. will send as many as the 100 plus missile launchers the Russians have already destroyed.

There is also the small fact that Russian air defenses can intercept such missiles in flight:

In addition, 9 Ukrainian Smerch multiple-launch rockets have been intercepted near Malaya Kamyshevakha, Kamenka, Brazhkovka, Glinskoe in Kharkov Region and Chernobaevka in Kherson Region.

In recent weeks the Ukraine also received a number of Su-25 fighter planes from some former Warsaw Pact state. Of the eight allegedly received recently at least five were reportedly destroyed by Russia within days of them reaching Ukraine.

All this additional arming of Ukrainian troops will have no significant effect on the battle field. It is unnecessarily prolonging the war.

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Former Lieutenant Colonel of the U.S. Army Daniel Davis has written some realistic pieces on Ukraine. His latest though are a bit of fantasy. He describes in three parts "How Ukraine Can Drive Russia Out".

First Ukraine would have to hold onto Donbas and with the help of raids and counterattacks unbalance the Russian forces. It would then perform a delaying retreat under fire to several new defense lines created in its rear. This delay action should allow for time to build a new force of 100,000 new troops in west Ukraine who would be equipped with a huge amount of new 'western' systems. It would take twelve to eighteen months to build and train that counterattack force.

Davis knows of course that each of those steps is completely unrealistic. His real advice is to negotiate an end to the war as soon as possible. But the writeup of what would really be necessary for the Ukraine to have at least a chance to win against Russia is helpful as it demonstrates the futility of such an effort.

There is no way for the Ukraine to turn the situation around or to win the war. The Ukrainian government has to give up. To stop the dying and the extensive amount of damage the war causes it must end now. To prolong it by supplying more money and weapons is criminal and should be punished.

Posted by b on May 30, 2022 at 13:27 UTC | Permalink | Comments (421)

May 29, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-77

Only news & views related to the Ukraine conflict ...

The open thread for other issues is here.

Posted by b on May 29, 2022 at 14:02 UTC | Permalink | Comments (219)

The MoA Week In Review - (NOT Ukraine) OT 2022-76

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

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Other issues:

Russiagate:

Multipolarism:

Talks:

Use as open NOT Ukraine thread ...

Posted by b on May 29, 2022 at 14:01 UTC | Permalink | Comments (217)

May 28, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-75

Only news & views related to the Ukraine conflict ...

The open thread for other issues is here.

Posted by b on May 28, 2022 at 16:40 UTC | Permalink | Comments (276)

May 27, 2022

As Things Fall Apart Biden May Want To Escalate

Is reality setting in? Is that why a Washington Post reporter, who has been on the frontline in Ukraine, was allowed to write this?

Ukrainian volunteer fighters in the east feel abandoned

[A]fter three months of war, this company of 120 men is down to 54 because of deaths, injuries and desertions.

The volunteers were civilians before Russia invaded on Feb. 24, and they never expected to be dispatched to one of the most dangerous front lines in eastern Ukraine. They quickly found themselves in the crosshairs of war, feeling abandoned by their military superiors and struggling to survive.

In mid February these people were still civilians in some town in west Ukraine. They then 'volunteered', to avoid a draft into the army, for the territorial defense forces with the hope to serve near their homes:

Lapko, built like a wrestler, was made a company commander in the 5th Separate Rifle Battalion, in charge of 120 men. The similarly burly Khrus became a platoon commander under Lapko. All of their comrades were from western Ukraine. They were handed AK-47 rifles and given training that lasted less than a half-hour.

“We shot 30 bullets and then they said, ‘You can’t get more; too expensive,’ ” Lapko said.

They were given orders to head to the western city of Lviv. When they got there, they were ordered to go south and then east into Luhansk province in Donbas, portions of which were already under the control of Moscow-backed separatists and are now occupied by Russian forces.

The men were put into a frontline ditch and have since been shelled again and again without any ability to respond. They then disregarded the orders from above and left. They have now be arrested.

The military values of such units was zero to begin with. Untrained men under command of an inexperienced civilian and with no real weapons have no chance to hold out against a professional military force like the Russian army.

That 60 or so of them got killed or wounded for no good reason is the responsibility of the servant of the corrupt (recommended), President Vlodomir Zelenski, and those 'western' politicians, like Boris Johnson, who egg him on.

But the biggest part of the responsibility for the life of those men falls to the Biden administration. It tried to push Zelensky to invade Donbas in early 2021. Back then Russia started large scale maneuvers and made clear that they would intervene. Zelensky got cold feet and pulled back. As the Carnegie Endowment's Dmitri Tretin reported at that time:

In February [2021], Zelensky ordered troops (as part of the rotation process) and heavy weapons (as a show of force) to go near to the conflict zone in Donbas. He did not venture out as far as Poroshenko, who dispatched small Ukrainian naval vessels through the Russian-controlled waters near the Kerch Strait in late 2018, but it was enough to get him noticed in Moscow. The fact of the matter is that even if Ukraine cannot seriously hope to win the war in Donbas, it can successfully provoke Russia into action. This, in turn, would produce a knee-jerk reaction from Ukraine’s Western supporters and further aggravate Moscow’s relations, particularly with Europe. One way or another, the fate of Nord Stream II will directly affect Ukraine’s interests. Being seen as a victim of Russian aggression and presenting itself as a frontline state checking Russia’s further advance toward Europe is a major asset of Kyiv’s foreign policy.

When the 2021 attempt had failed the Biden administration did not change its general plan as it is part of a larger strategy to push the 'west' into a new cold war with Russia and China. After the 2021 attempt on Donbas had failed the U.S. immediately prepared for a new attempt to provoke Russia in Ukraine in spring 2022.

The first instruction that Secretary of State Antony Blinken got from President Biden was to “reset” America’s alliances and partnerships abroad so that the United States could deal with the challenges ahead. That strategy would prove decisive in combating Russia’s aggression against Ukraine.

Blinken and other officials gave me new details this week, describing a series of behind-the-scenes meetings over the past year that helped forge the U.S.-led coalition to support Ukraine.
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The Biden administration’s secret planning began in April 2021 when Russia massed about 100,000 troops on the Ukrainian border. The buildup turned out to be a feint, but Blinken and other officials discussed U.S. intelligence about Russia’s actions with leaders of Britain, France and Germany at a NATO meeting in Brussels that month. Their message was, “We need to get ourselves prepared,” a senior State Department official said.
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The Ukraine threat got red-hot in October, when the United States gathered intelligence about a renewed Russian buildup on the border, along with “some detail about what Russian plans for those forces actually were,” Blinken said. This operational detail “was really the eye opener.” The Group of 20 nations were meeting at the end of October in Rome, and Biden pulled aside the leaders of Britain, France and Germany and gave them a detailed readout on the top-secret evidence.

“It was galvanizing enough that there was an agreement … to fleshing out the consequences for Russia if it went ahead with the aggression,” Blinken said.
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Threatening sanctions can be an empty diplomatic ritual. But in December, Blinken and his colleagues began seriously discussing with allies what steps they would take. The initial venue was a Group of Seven foreign ministers meeting in Liverpool, England, on Dec. 11. The attendees publicly committed that there would be “massive consequences and severe costs,” Blinken remembered. As a result, he said, “when the aggression actually happened, we were able to move immediately.”

NATO military planning accelerated along with the diplomacy. Air Force Gen. Tod Wolters, the NATO commander, told me that his colleagues began preparing in December and January the “ground lines of communication” that would allow rapid shipment of arms into Ukraine. They studied entry points for supplies and other practical details. This weapons pipeline delivered Stinger and Javelin missiles before the invasion began Feb. 24 and has transferred huge numbers of heavier weapons since then.

That narrative is of course deeply misleading. The U.S. did not know of a 'Russian invasion'. What it knew was that Zelensky, pushed by the U.S., would make another attempt to invade the Donbas republics with overwhelming force and that Russia's leadership would have to react to such an assault on its compatriots.

The Ukrainian assault began on February 16 when over several days Ukrainian artillery increased its bombardment of Donbas by a factor of 40. Russia reacted to that and on February 24 preempted the planned ground assault.

The above part of Biden's plan to provoke Russia into a war as a means to strengthen the U.S. position in Europe has worked well.

But how long will the coalition of the 'west' hold when inflation, energy scarcity and hunger set in? European unity is already falling apart with each country scrambling to fulfill its own energy needs.

Everyone can now see that the Ukraine, and with it the U.S., is losing the war. Meanwhile Russia is doing much better than anyone had expected.

What is Biden's plan now as things fall apart? Escalating towards a wider war is an option but the risk of it is much higher than potential gains.

Still, for Biden it may be the only way he is willing to go.

Posted by b on May 27, 2022 at 15:36 UTC | Permalink | Comments (332)

May 26, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-74

Only news & views related to the Ukraine conflict ...

The open thread for other issues is here.

Posted by b on May 26, 2022 at 12:49 UTC | Permalink | Comments (332)

Open Thread (NOT Ukraine) 2022-73

News & views not related to Ukraine ...

Posted by b on May 26, 2022 at 12:48 UTC | Permalink | Comments (256)

May 25, 2022

Ukraine Propaganda - BBC Tries To Sell Telegram Rumors That Make No Sense

Do they really think that the people are dumb enough to believe such shit?

Russian media: retired Russian major general killed in skies over Ukraine


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Which 'Russian media' one might asks:

A [Russian] fighter has been shot down in the skies over Ukraine, and Kanamat Botashev, a retired Major General of the Russian Air Force, was killed.

Source: Russian edition of BBC with reference to Botashov's three former subordinates

Details: Subordinates who had kept in touch with Botashev after leaving the service agreed to comment on condition of anonymity for reasons of personal safety.

Oh, the 'Russian media' is in fact the Russian language site of the BBC World Service which is financed and directed by the British government's Foreign Office. The same BBC World Service which since March has suspended its operation in Moscow and which had its its website blocked in Russia.

That BBC World Service will surely have reliable sources for making such nonsense claims:

One of Botashev's former colleagues confirmed that a retired general was carrying out missions in a Su-25 aircraft in Ukraine.

In one of the Russian Telegram channels, this participant reported on Botashev's death ...

'Russian Telegram channels' are anonymous and also widely used by Ukrainians. They are often unreliable.

The picture above is somewhat curious too. Its resolution is too low to read the name patch of the pictured officer who does totally not look like 63 year old retired man.

The plane the Ukrainians allegedly shot down was a Su-25 ground attack aircraft. Why then is the 'retired Major-General Botashev', should he actually exist, pictured in front of an Su-34, a supersonic fighter-bomber. According to Tineye the photo was first published on May 23 by a news site in Tbilisi, Georgia. There is no metadata in the picture and I am unable to find any caption for it.

The whole story makes absolutely no sense:

It is unclear how the 63-year-old retired general found himself at the controls of the Su-25 in Ukraine.
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Botashev commanded a regiment of the Guards Air Base in Voronezh. His military career came to an end in June 2012, when he was accused of crashing a Su-27 fighter near Petrozavodsk. The general asked his friend-colonel to let him fly a Su-27, a flight permit he did not have.

So the dude was kicked out of the military? He hasn't flown military planes for 10 years? Somehow he steals an Su-25, which he probably did not know how to fly, and gets shot down over Ukraine? Yeah, that makes totally sense ...

What will the BBC World Service editors try to sell us next? Bridges?

Posted by b on May 25, 2022 at 16:03 UTC | Permalink | Comments (280)

May 24, 2022

Flag Abuse And Other Bits On Ukraine

The Pentagon reports about the continuing efforts to sell new U.S. weapons to those nations which discard their old ones in Ukraine.

Austin Hosts Ukraine Defense Contact Group to Continue Support for Beleaguered Country

To express the seriousness of the situation in Ukraine the Pentagon decided to hoist Ukraine's blue-above-yellow flag upside down.


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Hanging a flag upside down is a sign of either dire distress or cultural ignorance. Given that this was a Pentagon event the later is the more likely to be the case.

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The Baltic nutters have a another great and of course completely impractical idea.

UK backs Lithuania’s plan to lift Russian blockade of Ukraine grain

Britain has backed in principle a proposal by Lithuania for a naval coalition “of the willing” to lift the Russian Black Sea blockade on Ukrainian grain exports.

The Lithuanian foreign minister, Gabrielius Landsbergis, proposed the plan during talks with the UK foreign secretary, Liz Truss, on Monday in London.

“Time is very very short. We are closing in on a new harvest and there is no other practical way of exporting the grain except through the Black Sea port of Odesa,” he told the Guardian. “There is no way of storing this grain and no other adequate alternative route. It is imperative that we show vulnerable countries we are prepared to take the steps that are needed to feed the world.”

Landsbergis proposed that a naval escort operation – not run by Nato – could protect the grain ships as they headed through the Black Sea and past Russian warships. He suggested that, apart from Britain, countries that were affected by the potential loss of grain such as Egypt could provide the necessary protection.
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He said Ukraine needed to export 80m tonnes of wheat alone this year and the only option was through Odesa.

Let me help Mr. Landsbergis with some facts:

  • The port of Odesa is blocked by Ukraine, not by Russia.
  • Ukraine does not have 80 million tons of wheat to export. In a good year the total grain production in Ukraine is 80 million tons. Some 50% of that is corn and some 40% wheat. Only two-third of that will be exported.
  • The Ukraine is currently exporting 1.5 million tons of grains per month. Most of that is going through Romania.
  • Given that this years planting did not go as planned the Ukraine will hardly have any wheat to export later this year.

Still some know-nothing falls for Landsbergis' scheme:

After meeting Landsbergis, Truss said the UK would want British naval ships to join the escort if the practicalities could be sorted, including demining the harbour and providing Ukraine with longer-range weapons to defend the harbour from Russian attack. The UK is in discussions with allies about the plan and it would probably need US agreement to be activated.

Truss said: “What we need to do is deal with this global food security issue and the UK is working on an urgent solution to get the grain out of Ukraine”.

The Ukraine is only number 5 of the largest wheat exporters with some 8% market share. Russia, the global wheat exporter no. 1, will have a record crop this year. The global food security issue is thereby a question of price and accessibility, not of the globally available quantity.

I find Liz Truss' point of "providing Ukraine with longer-range weapons to defend the harbour" quite interesting. Didn't the Ukraine claim that it hit the Russian ship Moskva with two Ukrainian made cruise missiles? If it really did so it already has the longer-range weapons to hit Russian ships. Is Truss leaking that the Ukraine lied about those missile hits?

The whole idea of sending an armed escort convoy and long range weapons is just nuts. What Ukraine would need are not only missiles but targeting data and radar with which that can be acquired. Unfortunately radar does emit electromagnetic waves which makes it detectable and vulnerable. Russia has already knocked out several radars in and around Odessa. What is Truss' plan to avoid that?

And don't get me going about Russia's submarines which are completely sufficient to sink anything in the Black Sea that Russia does not like to be there.

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Meanwhile the war is progressing in Russia's favor. I do not have time to show detailed maps of what is happening but there are two reasonable Youtube channels which provide good daily reports based on multiple sources. These are Military Summary and Defense Politics Aaaaasia.

In the north Lyman has fallen with reports of Ukrainian troops withdrawing after a short fight. In the east the Ukrainian held city Severodonetsk is mostly isolated and now under fierce attack. Several more towns around the Popasna bulge have been taken by the Russian side. South of it the city Svetlodarsk has fallen after the Ukrainian tried but failed to destroy a nearby dam. The Ukrainian troops retreated without a fight.

Instead of holding the lines by all means Ukrainian units now seem more interested in running away. That is more healthy for them and also solves their serious supply issues. Like other supply lines the Bakhmut-Lisichansk road is now under Russian fire control. This video shows what that means.

What we are seeing now are the effects of nearly three months of Russian artillery war. The Ukrainian troops at the frontline have been ground down and those who are left are moving out before being destroyed too. The front begins to move at several points. When those points merge we may next see the tactical deep battle phase of a classic Russian deep operation:

Deep battle envisaged the breaking of the enemy's forward defenses, or tactical zones, through combined arms assaults, which would be followed up by fresh uncommitted mobile operational reserves sent to exploit the strategic depth of an enemy front. The goal of a deep operation was to inflict a decisive strategic defeat on the enemy's logistical abilities and render the defence of their front more difficult, impossible, or indeed irrelevant. Unlike most other doctrines, deep battle stressed combined arms cooperation at all levels: strategic, operational, and tactical.
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It feels insane when Henry Kissing er is the only sane man in the room.

Henry Kissinger: Ukraine must give Russia territory

Veteran US statesman Henry Kissinger has urged the West to stop trying to inflict a crushing defeat on Russian forces in Ukraine, warning that it would have disastrous consequences for the long term stability of Europe.

The former US secretary of state and architect of the Cold War rapprochement between the US and China told a gathering in Davos that it would be fatal for the West to get swept up in the mood of the moment and forget the proper place of Russia in the European balance of power.

Dr Kissinger said the war must not be allowed to drag on for much longer, and came close to calling on the West to bully Ukraine into accepting negotiations on terms that fall very far short of its current war aims.
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He told the World Economic Forum that Russia had been an essential part of Europe for 400 years and had been the guarantor of the European balance of power structure at critical times. European leaders should not lose sight of the longer term relationship, and nor should they risk pushing Russia into a permanent alliance with China.

It is likely too late to reverse the Russia-China alliance but I otherwise agree.

Posted by b on May 24, 2022 at 13:59 UTC | Permalink | Comments (360)

May 23, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-72

Only news & views related to the Ukraine conflict ...

The open thread for other issues is here.

Posted by b on May 23, 2022 at 14:05 UTC | Permalink | Comments (281)

White House Rejects President's Foreign Policy

U.S. President Joe Biden apparently pursues different foreign policies than the White House.

October 23 2021:

'Strategic Ambiguity' on Taiwan Apparent as White House Walks Back Biden Comments

White House press secretary Jen Psaki on Friday appeared to walk back President Joe Biden's statement on Thursday that the United States was committed to defending Taiwan should it come under Chinese attack.

"The president was not announcing any change in our policy, nor has he made a decision to change our policy," Psaki said during a White House news briefing. "Our defense relationship with Taiwan is guided by the Taiwan Relations Act."

The 1979 Taiwan Relations Act states that the U.S. will provide arms for Taiwan to maintain a sufficient self-defense capability. It does not say the U.S. would intervene militarily to protect Taiwan in the event of a Chinese attack.

Psaki's statement stands in contradiction to Biden's comment at a CNN town hall Thursday night. When asked if the U.S. would come to the defense of Taiwan, Biden said, "Yes, we have a commitment to do that."

November 17 2021:

Biden Struggles to Stick to the Script on Taiwan

Once is an accident, twice is a coincidence, and three times is habit—or so the saying goes.

Amid escalating tensions with China, U.S. President Joe Biden has misspoken about U.S. policy toward the self-governed island of Taiwan at least four times since August, fueling speculation as to whether the president is subtly trying to signal an evolving U.S. policy toward Taiwan or just fumbling the details.

March 27 2022:

Biden’s Putin remark, White House walk-back faces scrutiny

President Biden’s remark that Russian President Vladimir Putin “cannot remain in power” reverberated throughout Washington on Sunday, with some current and former officials and lawmakers scrutinizing the reported ad-lib while others slammed the White House for its subsequent walk-back.

Biden turned heads on Saturday when, at the end of a speech in Warsaw, Poland, he said, “for God’s sake, this man cannot remain in power.”

The White House quickly tried to walk back the comment, claiming that Biden was referring to Putin exercising power outside of Russia, and Secretary of State Antony Blinken affirmed that the U.S. has no plans for regime change in Moscow.

May 23 2022:

US would defend Taiwan if attacked by China, says Joe Biden

Joe Biden has said the US would intervene militarily to defend Taiwan if it came under attack from China – a statement that is likely to enrage Beijing as concern grows over Chinese military activity in the region.

Speaking in Tokyo on the second day of his visit to Japan, Biden said the US’s responsibility to protect the self-ruled island – which China considers a renegade province – was “even stronger” after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, in one of the most forceful statements in support of Taiwan in decades.

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Amichai Stein @AmichaiStein1 - 6:32 UTC · May 23, 2022
White House official: Biden’s statement that the US would get involved militarily to defend Taiwan is NOT a departure from long-standing US policy of strategic ambiguity
Quoted Tweet
Amichai Stein @AmichaiStein1 - 6:01 UTC · May 23, 2022
#BREAKING: President Biden says would be willing to get involved militarily to defend Taiwan from China aggression

They urgently need to shut up that warmongering idiot.

Posted by b on May 23, 2022 at 9:20 UTC | Permalink | Comments (232)

May 22, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-71

Only news & views related to the Ukraine conflict ...

The open thread for other issues is here.

Posted by b on May 22, 2022 at 11:58 UTC | Permalink | Comments (335)

The MoA Week In Review - (NOT Ukraine) OT 2022-70

Last week's posts at Moon of Alabama:

> Above all, this is an operation of necessity for Russia, not of choice. Paradoxically, the choice was entirely up to the US and NATO to appreciate that there is nothing like absolute security. Wasn’t it the former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger who once said, “Absolute security for one state means absolute insecurity for all others.” <

---
Other issues:

China:

Crypto scam:

Covid-19:

Use as open (NOT Ukraine) thread ...

Posted by b on May 22, 2022 at 11:56 UTC | Permalink | Comments (159)

May 21, 2022

No, The Ukraine War Has Not Stoked A Global Food Crisis.

Russia is falsely accused of blocking Ukraine's sea ports and thereby increasing a global food shortage:

The United Nations has warned that the war in Ukraine has helped to stoke a global food crisis that could last years if it goes unchecked, as the World Bank announced an additional $12bn in funding to mitigate its “devastating effects”.

UN secretary general António Guterres said shortages of grain and fertiliser caused by the war, warming temperatures and pandemic-driven supply problems threaten to “tip tens of millions of people over the edge into food insecurity”, as financial markets saw share prices fall heavily again on fears of inflation and a worldwide recession.

Speaking at a UN meeting in New York on global food security, he said what could follow would be “malnutrition, mass hunger and famine, in a crisis that could last for years”, as he and others urged Russia to release Ukrainian grain exports.
...
Before the invasion in February, Ukraine was seen as the world’s bread basket, exporting 4.5m tonnes of agricultural produce per month through its ports – 12% of the planet’s wheat, 15% of its corn and half of its sunflower oil.

But with the ports of Odesa, Chornomorsk and others cut off from the world by Russian warships, the supply can travel only on congested land routes that are far less efficient.

It is not Russia that is withholding Ukrainian grain or cutting off its seaports. Ukraine does that all by itself. As the Russian Joint Coordination Headquarters for Humanitarian Response in Ukraine reports:

75 foreign vessels from 17 countries remain blocked in 7 Ukrainian ports (Kherson, Nikolaev, Chernomorsk, Ochakov, Odessa, Yuzhniy and Mariupol). The threat of shelling and high mine danger created by official Kiev in its internal waters and territorial sea prevents vessels from safely leaving the ports and reaching the open sea.

In confirmation of this, the Russian Federation is opening daily from 08:00 to 19:00 (Moscow time) a humanitarian corridor, which is a safe lane south-west of Ukraine's territorial sea, 80 nautical miles long and 3 nautical miles wide.

Detailed information in English and Russian on the modus operandi of the maritime humanitarian corridor is broadcast daily every 15 minutes on VHF radio on 14 and 16 international channels in English and Russian.

At the same time, the Kiev authorities continue to avoid engaging with representatives of states and ship-owning companies to resolve the issue of ensuring the safe passage of foreign vessels to the assembly area.

The danger to navigation from Ukrainian mines drifting off their anchors along the coasts of Black Sea states remains.

The Russian Federation is taking a full range of comprehensive measures to ensure the safety of civilian navigation in the waters of the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov.

That is just Russian propaganda you might say. But no, it is not. The International Maritime Organization (IMO) has published reports about the Maritime Security and Safety in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov:

At the start of the conflict approximately 2000 seafarers were stranded aboard 94 vessels in Ukrainian ports. 10 vessels have subsequently safely departed the Sea of Azov and 84, merchant ships remain, with nearly 450 seafarers onboard.
...
The Council (C/ES.35) on 10 and 11 March agreed to encourage the establishment, as a provisional and urgent measure, of a blue safe maritime corridor to allow the safe evacuation of seafarers and ships from the high-risk and affected areas in the Black Sea and the Sea of Azov to a safe place in order to protect the life of seafarers, and ensure the mobilization and commercial navigation of vessels intending to use this corridor by avoiding military attacks and protecting and securing the maritime domain.
...
The Russian Federation has informed IMO that it had established a humanitarian corridor, to provide for the safe evacuation of ships once outside the territorial waters of the Ukraine. Despite this initiative, there remain many safety and security issues which hamper access to the corridor and the ability for ships to depart from their berth in Ukrainian ports.

Ukraine’s ports are at MARSEC (maritime security) level 3 and remain closed for entry and exit. Sea mines have been laid in port approaches and some port exits are blocked by sunken barges and cranes. Many ships no longer have sufficient crew onboard to sail.

Ukraine also provided their preconditions for the safe evacuation of ships from their ports. These include an end to hostilities, the withdrawal of troops and ensuring the freedom of navigation in the Black Sea and Sea of Azov, including carrying out mine-sweeping activities with the involvement of Black Sea littoral states.

The MARSEC level of a port is determined by the local authorities. Ukraine is simply prohibiting ships from entering or leaving the ports it controls. It has taken these hostage and makes unreasonable demands for their release.

It also has laid some 400 anchor mines around Odessa which are so old that some of them have parted from their chains and drifted south towards Turkey. It does not allow Russia to de-mine the sea.

Meanwhile foreign ships that had been held by Ukraine in Mariupol have been able to leave since Russia has taken the city and its harbor.

UN secretary general Guterres certainly knows all this. That he is accusing Russia of causing a blockade only shows that he does not honor the neutrality his position demands.

The global food shortage has by the way been around since early 2021. It was not caused by the Ukraine crisis but, as an October 2021 report says, by high prices following supply chain disruptions during the pandemic:

[T]he food shortage around the world isn't just a factor of supply chain issues. According to a rapid phone survey done by the World Bank in 48 countries, a significant number of people are running out of food or reducing their consumption. Global food prices have hit a 10-year peak, according to the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization), driven by gains in cereals and vegetable oils. Despite record cereal consumption, a shortage is forecasted on higher consumption projections.

Guterres' accusations were copy-pasted from remarks U.S. Secretary of State Anthony Blinken had made in an interview:

Blinken: Ukraine is one of the leading producers of, among other things, wheat in the world. Russia, of course, is a large producer itself. And in Ukraine, there are literally tens of millions of tons of wheat that are stuck there because Russia's blockading Ukraine's ports. There are about 85 ships right now with grain, wheat in them. They can't get out. There are another 22 million tons of wheat in silos near the ports that can't get there.

Blinken is lying about the port blockade. The Ukraine is by the way currently exporting wheat via railway, Danube barges and then through the Romanian port Constanta. That wheat though is likely to go to Europe.

Blinken is also lying about fertilizers:

Blinken: Now, the reason for that is there's also a fertilizer shortage because a lot of that is produced in the region. That means that as farmers are thinking about next year's crops, if they don't have fertilizer, the yields are going to go down. So there's going to be even less food on the market and and prices go up even more.

Russia and Belarus are big fertilizer producers. Neither has been hindered to produce by the war. There is therefore no shortage. The only reason the U.S. and 'western' countries will not get fertilizer from those countries are the sanctions they have enacted against buying from them.

This passage from Blinken's interview has a comical element:

Q: You were in Kyiv recently, about a month ago, and you said that Russia is failing, Ukraine is succeeding. What is your assessment now?

Blinken: That remains the case. Here's what's important: Putin's number one objective in going into Ukraine was to erase its independence, erase its sovereignty, to bring Ukraine fully back into the Russian fold, to make it part, in some fashion, of Russia. That's already failed.

How would Blinken know what Putin's number one objective was or is? Has he put himself into Putin's mind? Putin himself has given the reasons for the launching the operation in his Victory Day speech. Ukraine's independence was never questioned in it.

The next question after Blinken had put himself into Putin's mind is this one:

Q: How did he get this so wrong? How did he miscalculate this so badly?

Blinken: It's very hard to fully put yourself in the mind of anyone else.

Yeah. Thought so.

Q: What are you hearing intelligence wise?

Blinken: Well, we had, of course, very good information about Russia's planned aggression in the first place, which we shared with the world. A lot of people were skeptical. And it's one of those things where, as I said, I wish we'd been wrong about it, but we were right. ...

When during the winter of 2021 Biden warned of an 'imminent Russian invasion' of Ukraine he did not know what Russia's plans were. What he did know was that the Ukraine was planning, with U.S. help, for an all out on attack on the Donbas republics in February 2022.

Biden knew that no Russian politician could stand back when that were to happen. When you know on what date a war will start it is of course easy to predict when the response to it will happen.

Starting on February 16 Ukrainian artillery attacks on Donbas increased from a few dozen per day to more than 2,000 per day as was dully noted and reported by the OSCE special observer mission. It were these artillery preparations for a full blown attack that pushed Russia towards the preemptive operation in Ukraine.

This is confirmed in a recent Russian news report about the liberation of Azovstal (machine translation):

The [Russian] operation [in Ukraine] began against the backdrop of the situation in the Donbass that worsened in mid-February. The authorities of the DPR and LPR reported increased shelling by Ukrainian troops, announced the evacuation of civilians in the Russian Federation and asked for recognition of independence. On February 21, Putin signed the relevant decrees.

Again:

  • There was and is a global food crisis because food has become unaffordable for some people.
  • The war in Ukraine did not cause the food crisis.
  • Russia does not blockade Ukrainian harbors.
  • Ukraine could export more wheat if it would allow ships to leave its harbors.
  • Putin has not questioned the independence of Ukraine.
  • The reason for the war was the planned and prepared for Ukrainian attack on Donbas.

Anything else said about those points is just propaganda.

Posted by b on May 21, 2022 at 15:02 UTC | Permalink | Comments (331)

May 20, 2022

Ukraine SitRep - Russians Break Through U.S. Bolsterism

On May 14 I noted that the U.S. had asked Russia for a ceasefire in Ukraine:

The U.S. readout of the call says:

On May 13, Secretary of Defense Lloyd J. Austin III spoke with Russian Minister of Defense Sergey Shoygu for the first time since February 18. Secretary Austin urged an immediate ceasefire in Ukraine and emphasized the importance of maintaining lines of communication.

Austin initiated the call and the U.S. is seeking a ceasefire in Ukraine!!!

Yesterday the top officers of the U.S. and Russia had a call which, again, the U.S. side had initiated:

Army Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and Gen. Valery Gerasimov, chief of the Russian General Staff, held a conversation that the Pentagon declined to further detail beyond acknowledging it had happened.

Thinks must be bad in Ukraine for this to have happened. Indeed if one trusts the daily 'clobber list' the Russian Ministry of Defense puts out all positions of the Ukrainian army are under heavy artillery fire and it is losing about 500 men per day. There are additional Russian effective strikes on training camps, weapon storage sites and transport hubs all over the country.

On top of that the tactical situation at the eastern frontline has changed after Russian forces broke through the heavily fortified frontline.


Source: liveuamap.com - bigger
A few days ago the Russian army went forward along the H-32 road, broke through the line in the direction of Propasna and took the town. It has since extended the bulge by taking several villages to the north, west and south.

bigger

This breakthrough gives the chance to roll up the Ukrainian fortifications along the frontline through flank attacks or from behind. By cutting the supply lines of the Ukrainian troops to the north and south envelopes can be created which will eventual lead to cauldrons with no way out for the Ukrainian troops.

This is especially dangerous for the several thousand soldiers north of the bulge which currently defend the cities of Sieverodonetsk and Lysychansk in the north eastern part of the upper bubble.


bigger

The Russian plan was to have another breakthrough from the north pushing to Siversk to then close the upper envelope. But after several failed attempts to cross the forest area and the Seversky Donets river that breakthrough has still to happen.

Russia is now likely to push fresh troops into the Propasna bulge to extend its reach into all directions. Reports of current actions show that the heavy fighting and bombing on the frontline continues and that bombing also continues to target traffic nodes.


bigger

Other fronts in Ukraine are currently relatively quiet with little direct fire. Still daily Russian artillery attacks hits all Ukrainian front lines and will cost daily casualties.

Some 2,000 Azov militia and Ukrainian army troops have left the catacombs of Azovstal in Mariupol. Another thousand may still be down there. The Russian army is filtering these prisoners. Members of Azov and other militia will be put to court. Ukrainian army soldiers will become prisoners of war.

The gasoline and diesel scarcity in Ukraine is currently having severe impacts. Even the Ukrainian military is now rationing its fuel. Since about six weeks ago Russia has systematically attacked refineries and fuel storage sites in Ukraine. It also disabled railroad bridges along the lines that brought fuel from Moldova and Romania.

At the same time the Ukrainian government had held up price regulations for fuel. The consumer sale prices for diesel and gasoline were fixed. The cost of fuel brought in by private trucks from Poland exceeded the price gas station owners could ask for. In consequence gas stations ran dry as their owners refrained from purchasing new fuel.

Three days ago the Zelensky regime in Kiev finally ended the fuel price control:

According to [economy minister] Svyrydenko, the government expects that the maximum prices for diesel will not exceed UAH 58 ($1.97), for gasoline — UAH 52 ($1.76) per liter, once controls are lifted.

“As soon as we feel that market operators are abusing their position, we will impose sanctions on them,” she added.

“We will monitor the situation on a daily basis”.

The expected prices are lower than what is currently asked for in Germany and that is without trucking the fuel the 600 kilometer from Poland to Kiev. The threat of sanctions also means that local wholesalers will have little incentives to actually deal in fuel. With the average wages in Ukraine being about $480 per months the real fuel prices will soon become another economic shock.

The Ukrainian government also continues its attacks on unions and labor laws:

In March, the Ukrainian parliament passed wartime legislation that severely curtailed the ability of trade unions to represent their members, introduced ‘suspension of employment’ (meaning employees are not fired, but their work and wages are suspended) and gave employers the right to unilaterally suspend collective agreements.
...
But beyond this temporary measure, a group of Ukrainian MPs and officials are now aiming to further ‘liberalise’ and ‘de-Sovietise’ the country’s labour laws. Under a draft law, people who work in small and medium-sized firms – those which have up to 250 employees – would, in effect, be removed from the country’s existing labour laws and covered by individual contracts negotiated with their employer. More than 70% of the Ukrainian workforce would be affected by this change.

Against a background of concerns that Ukrainian officials are using Russia’s invasion to push through a long-awaited radical deregulation of labour laws, one expert has warned that the introduction of civil law into labour relations risks opening a “Pandora’s box” for workers.

In total the social-economic situation for Ukraine is catastrophic. The military situation is even worse. Mariupol has fallen and Russian troops working there will soon be able to go elsewhere. The Propasna bulge is threatening to envelope the whole northern frontline together with the core of the Ukrainian army.

There is no more talk of the Ukrainian army 'winning' like in Kiev or Karkov where the Russian troops retreated in good order after finishing their task of holding Ukrainian forces in place.

The Ukrainian command has sent several territorial brigades to the front lines. These units were supposed to defend their home towns. They consist of middle age men drafted into service. They have little fighting experience and lack heavy weapons. Several of these units have published videos saying they were giving up. They are lamenting that their commanders left them when their situation became critical.

That the Ukrainian army is now using such units as cannon fodder shows that it has only few reserves left.

Weapons that come in from the 'west' have difficulties reaching the front lines and had so far very little effect. They amount to drops of water on a hot plate.

All the above are the reasons why Austin and Milley have phoned up their Russian equivalents. They are also the reasons why the New York Times editors call on the Biden administration to end its bluster and to take a more realistic position:

Recent bellicose statements from Washington — President Biden’s assertion that Mr. Putin “cannot remain in power,” Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin’s comment that Russia must be “weakened” and the pledge by the House speaker, Nancy Pelosi, that the United States would support Ukraine “until victory is won” — may be rousing proclamations of support, but they do not bring negotiations any closer.
In the end, it is the Ukrainians who must make the hard decisions: They are the ones fighting, dying and losing their homes to Russian aggression, and it is they who must decide what an end to the war might look like. If the conflict does lead to real negotiations, it will be Ukrainian leaders who will have to make the painful territorial decisions that any compromise will demand.
...
[A]s the war continues, Mr. Biden should also make clear to President Volodymyr Zelensky and his people that there is a limit to how far the United States and NATO will go to confront Russia, and limits to the arms, money and political support they can muster. It is imperative that the Ukrainian government’s decisions be based on a realistic assessment of its means and how much more destruction Ukraine can sustain.
Confronting this reality may be painful, but it is not appeasement. This is what governments are duty bound to do, not chase after an illusory “win.” Russia will be feeling the pain of isolation and debilitating economic sanctions for years to come, and Mr. Putin will go down in history as a butcher. The challenge now is to shake off the euphoria, stop the taunting and focus on defining and completing the mission. America’s support for Ukraine is a test of its place in the world in the 21st century, and Mr. Biden has an opportunity and an obligation to help define what that will be.

Posted by b on May 20, 2022 at 16:49 UTC | Permalink | Comments (312)

May 19, 2022

Ukraine Open Thread 2022-69

Only news & views related to the Ukraine conflict ...

The open thread for other issues is here.

Posted by b on May 19, 2022 at 13:13 UTC | Permalink | Comments (347)

Open Thread 2022-68 (Not Ukraine)

News & views NOT related to the Ukraine conflict ...

Posted by b on May 19, 2022 at 13:12 UTC | Permalink | Comments (162)

May 18, 2022

How Europe Was Pushed Towards Economic Suicide

With the active help from Europe's 'leadership' the U.S. is succeeding in ruining Europe.

As Michael Hudson, a research professor of Economics at University of Missouri, Kansas City, wrote in early February, before Russia's intervention in Ukraine:

America no longer has the monetary power and seemingly chronic trade and balance-of-payments surplus that enabled it to draw up the world’s trade and investment rules in 1944-45. The threat to U.S. dominance is that China, Russia and Mackinder’s Eurasian World Island heartland are offering better trade and investment opportunities than are available from the United States with its increasingly desperate demand for sacrifices from its NATO and other allies.

The most glaring example is the U.S. drive to block Germany from authorizing the Nord Stream 2 pipeline to obtain Russian gas for the coming cold weather. Angela Merkel agreed with Donald Trump to spend $1 billion building a new LNG port to become more dependent on highly priced U.S. LNG. (The plan was cancelled after the U.S. and German elections changed both leaders.) But Germany has no other way of heating many of its houses and office buildings (or supplying its fertilizer companies) than with Russian gas.

The only way left for U.S. diplomats to block European purchases is to goad Russia into a military response and then claim that avenging this response outweighs any purely national economic interest. As hawkish Under-Secretary of State for Political Affairs, Victoria Nuland, explained in a State Department press briefing on January 27: “If Russia invades Ukraine one way or another Nord Stream 2 will not move forward.” The problem is to create a suitably offensive incident and depict Russia as the aggressor.

In mid February OSCE observer noted that the artillery bombardment of Donbas by the Ukrainians increased from a handful to over 2,000 explosions per day. Russia reacted to these attack preparations by recognizing the Donbas republics, signing defense agreements with them and by finally coming to their help.

Shortly after the launch of the Russian military operation Professor Hudson further developed his earlier thoughts:

The recent prodding of Russia by expanding Ukrainian anti-Russian ethnic violence by Ukraine’s neo-Nazi post-2014 Maiden regime aims at forcing a showdown. It comes in response to the fear by U.S. interests that they are losing their economic and political hold on their NATO allies and other Dollar Area satellites as these countries have seen their major opportunities for gain to lie in increasing trade and investment with China and Russia.
...
As President Biden explained, the current military escalation (“Prodding the Bear”) is not really about Ukraine. Biden promised at the outset that no U.S. troops would be involved. But he has been demanding for over a year that Germany prevent the Nord Stream 2 pipeline from supplying its industry and housing with low-priced gas and turn to the much higher-priced U.S. suppliers.
...
[T]he most pressing U.S. strategic aim of NATO confrontation with Russia is soaring oil and gas prices. In addition to creating profits and stock-market gains for U.S. companies, higher energy prices will take much of the steam out of the German economy.

In early April Professor Hudson took another look at the situation:

It is now clear that the New Cold War was planned over a year ago, with serious strategy associated with America’s perceived to block Nord Stream 2 as part of its aim of barring Western Europe (“NATO”) from seeking prosperity by mutual trade and investment with China and Russia.
...
So the Russian-speaking Donetsk and Luhansk regions were shelled with increasing intensity, and when Russia still refrained from responding, plans reportedly were drawn up for a great showdown last February – a heavy Western Ukrainian attack organized by U.S. advisors and armed by NATO.
...
European trade and investment prior to the War to Create Sanctions had promised a rising mutual prosperity among Germany, France and other NATO countries vis-à-vis Russia and China. Russia was providing abundant energy at a competitive price, and this energy supply was to make a quantum leap with Nord Stream 2. Europe was to earn the foreign exchange to pay for this rising import trade by a combination of exporting more industrial manufactures to Russia and capital investment in rebuilding the Russian economy, e.g. by German auto companies, aircraft and financial investment. This bilateral trade and investment is now stopped – for many, many years, given NATO’s confiscation of Russia’s foreign reserves kept in euros and British sterling.

The European response to the U.S. proxy war against Russia was based on media driven hysteric moralizing or maybe moralizing hysteria. It was and is neither rational nor realistic.

The European 'leadership' decided that nothing but the economic suicide of Europe was sufficient to show Russia that Brussels was seriously miffed. Dimwit national governments, including the German one, followed that program. Should they stay on their course the result will be a complete de-industrialization of western Europe.

In the words of one serious observer:

Today, we see that for purely political reasons, driven by their own ambitions, and under pressure from their US overlord, the European countries are imposing more sanctions on the oil and gas markets which will lead to more inflation. Instead of admitting their mistakes, they are looking for a guilty party elsewhere.
...
One gets the impression that Western politicians and economists simply forget basic economic laws or just choose to ignore them.
...
[S]aying no to Russian energy means that Europe will systemically and for the long term become the world’s most costly region for energy resources. Yes, prices will rise, and resources will go to counter these price hikes, but this will not change the situation significantly. Some analysts are saying that it will seriously or even irrevocably undermine the competitiveness of a significant portion of European industry, which is already losing ground to companies from other parts of the world. Now, these processes will certainly pick up pace. Clearly, the opportunities for economic activity, with its improvements, will leave Europe for other regions, as will Russia’s energy resources.

This economic auto-da-fe… suicide is, of course, the internal affair of the European countries.
...
Now our partners’ erratic actions – this is what they are – have resulted in a de facto growth in revenue in the Russian oil-and-gas sector in addition to the damage to the European economy.
...
Understanding what steps the West will take in the near future, we must reach conclusions in advance and be proactive, turning the thoughtless chaotic steps of some of our partners to our advantage for the benefit of our country. Naturally, we should not hope for their endless mistakes. We should simply, practically proceed from current realities, as I said.

Vladimir Putin, Meeting on oil industry development, May 17 2020, Kremlin, Moscow

Posted by b on May 18, 2022 at 14:01 UTC | Permalink | Comments (424)

May 17, 2022

Ukraine - For Laughs

'Western' media are nothing but Zelenski regime megaphones.

Liveuamap @Liveuamap - 21:30 UTC · May 16, 2022
Zelensky confirms Azovstal troops evacuation: «Ukraine needs Ukrainian heroes alive. This has been our principle»
https://liveuamap.com/en/2022/16-may... via @myroslavapetsa
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The New York Times @nytimes - 22:59 UTC · May 16, 2022
Breaking News: Ukraine ended its “combat mission” in Mariupol and said fighters were being evacuated, signaling that the battle at a steel plant was over.
link
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CNN International @cnni - 23:39 UTC · May 16, 2022
Ukrainian forces say they have ended their "combat mission" in besieged Mariupol, as hundreds are evacuated from the Azovstal steel plant. https://cnn.it/3FQALcV
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Reuters @Reuters - 3:35 AM · May 17, 2022
Ukraine's military said it was working to evacuate all remaining troops from their last stronghold in the besieged port of Mariupol, ceding control of the city to Russia after months of bombardment https://reut.rs/3wlYbUG

From the false headline down the Washington Post report on the issue is a master piece of propaganda:

Ukraine ends bloody battle for Mariupol, evacuates Azovstal fighters

Ukrainian fighters have ended their weeks-long defense of a besieged steel plant in the strategic port city of Mariupol, as hundreds of combatants — dozens of them seriously wounded — were evacuated from the complex Monday.

One has to read beyond 323 words of falsehood to find out, down in paragraph 7, what really has happened.

Moscow hasn’t yet publicly responded to the developments in Mariupol, which were described by Russian state media as an order from Ukrainian military command for its troops to “surrender.”

Ukraine’s deputy defense minister, Anna Malyar, said 53 seriously wounded soldiers were taken to a hospital in Novoazovsk, a nearby town which is controlled by Russian-backed separatists. Another 211 were transported to another Russian-aligned village, Olenivka, she said. Moscow and Kyiv are brokering a prisoner swap to secure their release.

Malyar said officials were still working to rescue the remaining soldiers, though it is unclear how many are still inside. Ukrainian authorities said last week there were nearly 1,000 holdout fighters in the plant.

The f***ers finally gave up and surrendered unconditionally to the Russian forces as their only alternative was to decease within the next hours or days.

I am sure that the Russian authorities will apply a fine filter to determine who of those prisoners of war are allegeable for war crime prosecutions, de-nazification and a long stay in some north Siberian road builder camp.

There are also rumors of NATO personnel presence in the Azovstal catacombs. They will likely get to know the cellars of the famous Lubyanka building in Moscow before being exchanged in this or that deal with their home countries.

The rest will eventually be exchanged for Russian soldiers who are unfortunately held by the Ukrainian military.

Posted by b on May 17, 2022 at 9:18 UTC | Permalink | Comments (373)