Ukraine Update–Day 9

This is your one step shopping for news of the latest insanity of man…..

The forces of ‘Vlad the Invader’ continues the onslaught against Ukraine and its defenders things are spiraling into total chaos…..

Russian Campaign Update. The Russians are continuing their attacks against Ukraine. The effort in the north is somewhat stalled while gains are being made by the Russians in the south. The Russians don’t appear to have an operational plan where the different columns are in a supporting posture – it seems more of a piecemeal effort with separate battles going on in different parts of Ukraine. The White House is reporting that 90% of the pre-invasion force on the borders of Ukraine has now entered the country.

The capture of Kyiv is the main effort. The cities of Kharkiv, Mariupol, and Mykolayiv are secondary targets. The 40-mile long Russian column advancing into the interior of Ukraine has been slow moving and has come under attack frequently by Ukrainian forces. As of Thursday (Mar 3) the column was 15 miles from the capital city – Kyiv. The forward elements of the convoy are likely moving into their staging areas, with some elements heading south and then west to complete the encirclement of the capital city.

Fight for the Skies. The Russians have yet to commit the full force of its air force and its long-range and short-range missiles. This is a failure of planning, an attempt to minimize civilian casualties, or some other factor. But it remains a mystery to military analysts. The Ukrainian Air Force, although diminished, is still flying. The anti-air capabilities of Ukraine are reduced but still active. Stingers appear to be making a difference.

Maritime Activities. An Estonian cargo ship was reportedly sunk in the Black Sea after hitting a naval mine of the coast of Odessa. A Bangladeshi-flagged ship was also hit by a Russian missile. An amphibious force of four large landing ships is off the coast of Odessa. They will likely take part in an operation once the Russian forces from the Crimea spearhead start moving west along the coast of the Black Sea. Or, they are a feint to keep Ukrainian forces in the Odessa region while the Crimea-based Russian forces either head to Kyiv or conduct a pincer movement to cut off Ukrainian forces in the eastern part of the country.

Kyiv. The capital city is almost completely encircled. Open roads leading out of the capital are likely to the southwest. The train heading west is running . . . and always full of passengers. It is likely that the Russians want to take the city and install a puppet regime. There is probably a plane waiting in Moscow to board the ‘new government’ and fly them to Kyiv once the city is secured by the Russians.

Kharkiv. The second largest city of Ukraine is Kharkiv located in the northeast of the country. There is a fierce fight for this city that is close to the Russian border. A lot of artillery and rocket attacks by the Russians have occurred. Most reports say that the city is completely encircled.

Mariupol. Located on the Sea of Azov, the coastal city of Mariupol is under siege by the Russians. This city is situated along the coastal road network that would provide Russia with a land bridge between Russia and the Crimea.

Going West? With the capture of Kherson by the Russians, attention is now focused on Mykolayiv and Odessa. The question is, will this concentration of Russian troops that emerged from Russian-occupied Crimea push north to Kyiv or head west towards Odessa?

Western Arms. Over 20 countries – most from NATO and the European Union – are sending weapons, ammunition, and military supplies to Ukraine from across the Polish border. Rocket launchers, Stinger surface-to-air missiles, and Javelin antitank missiles are among the more important weapons being sent to Ukraine. Turkey is providing Bayraktar TB2 drones that have proved surprisingly effective against Russian forces.

Fight at Nuclear Power Plant. Russian forces fired at buildings in a complex housing the Zaporizhzhia nuclear power plant. This took place in the southern city of Enerhodar. The fire has since been put out, no news on radiation leaks. The International Atomic Energy Agency reports that the Ukraine regulator has not detected a change in radiation levels. Russian news reports that a joint Russian-Ukrainian exercise was held on Thursday to practice procedures at the power plant. The exercise is now over and completed all of its training objectives.

Russian General Killed. The former commander of Russian 7th Airborne Assault Division was killed by a Ukrainian sniper on Wednesday (Mar 2). At the time of his death he was the deputy commander of the 41st Combined Arms Army of the Central Military District. “Ukraine Forces Reportedly Kill Russia General Andrei Sukhovetsky in Blow to Invading Army”, Newsweek, March 3, 2022.

Negotiations. Talks are ongoing each day at the Belarusian town of Gomel just across the Belarus border. Ukraine has demanded a ceasefire and the establishment of humanitarian corridors at the talks. Ukrainian President Zelensky has requested direct talks with Russian President Putin.

Refugees. Over a million people have fled Ukraine in the past seven days according to the United Nations. This is about 2% of the country’s total population. Most are being taken in by Poland and Hungary.

“Volunteer Formations of Territorial Communities”. The provisions of Article 8 of the Law of Ukraine “On Fundamentals of National Resistance” have established civilian organizations that are under the command and control of the commander of the military unit of the Territorial Defence Forces of the Armed Forces of Ukraine. The tasks of the Volunteer Formations of Territorial Communities is to construct checkpoints, block movement of the enemy, and perform other tasks given them. The most significant change to the law included the clearly defined powers of the Special Operations Forces, which will lead the resistance movement, as well as giving volunteer fighters the right to use small arms.

“Members of voluntary formations of territorial communities have the right to use personal hunting weapons, small arms, other weapons and ammunition while performing territorial defense tasks, in accordance with the procedure established by the Cabinet of Ministers of Ukraine.”

Foreign Volunteers? Russia Will Prosecute. Volunteers from across the globe are traveling to Ukraine to fight against the Russians. Apparently several hundred volunteers have arrived in Ukraine to fight alongside Ukrainian forces. The Ukrainian embassy in Washington, D.C. says they have received more than 3,000 applications for U.S. citizens wanting to help out. Many of them are military veterans. Once in the Ukraine they are integrated into the International Legion of Territorial Defense of Ukraine. The Russian Defense Ministry says that military contractors sent by Western countries and ‘foreign mercenaries’ will be prosecuted. It is likely that this announcement will not apply to the Wagner Group.

U.S. SOF and Ukraine. From intelligence gathering to training civilians in guerrilla tactics, here’s what the U.S. and NATO might do to push back against the Russian invasion while avoiding escalation. “How U.S. Special Forces Can Fight Putin Without Starting World War III”, by Jeremy Kryt, Daily Beast, March 1, 2022.

Insurgency? Long and Bloody. Thomas Pepinsky, a professor of government and public policy at Cornell University, writes that the Ukrainians should steel themselves for a long and difficult insurgency in the months and years ahead. The Ukrainians are unlikely to defeat the larger and better equipped Russian army they are confronted with. So an insurgency seems to be the only alternative to capitulation. Insurgent warfare is designed to grind down the occupying force’s resolve. But that takes months if not years. “A Ukrainian Insurgency Will Be Long and Bloody”, Modern War Institute at West Point, March 3, 2022.

Hackers on both sides of the conflict continue their efforts in cyberspace. Some social media platforms are being restricted or shutdown – in Russia and around the world by respective nations. The United States is considering a bill in Congress entitled Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act of 2022. Despite the fact that Russia has a huge army of cyber warriors it seems to have not coordinated a pre-invasion cyber attack very effectively, and its current operations are not decisive. Is cyberwar overrated?

Hackers Targeting Refugee Orgs. Cyber hackers from Belarus are going after organizations that are helping Ukrainian refugees and delivering humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Phishing attacks have been launched from emails pretending to be from the Ukrainian security services. “Warning: Hackers are Targeting the Ukraine Refugee Crisis”, Forbes, March 2, 2022.

Hacktivists and Cyber War. Some computer techies have a criminal focus. But we now see them opposing each other as they align with Russia or Ukraine in the current conflict. Hacktivists around the world have got involved in the Ukraine War. Ukraine put out a call for a digital army to help it resist the Russian invasion. Anonymous and other individual hackers have answered the call. Russia’s cyber army has been building its cyber capabilities over the past 15 years. “The cyberwar over Ukraine is like nothing we’ve seen before”, Deutsche Welle, March 3, 2022.

Hackers on both sides of the conflict continue their efforts in cyberspace. Some social media platforms are being restricted or shutdown – in Russia and around the world by respective nations. The United States is considering a bill in Congress entitled Strengthening American Cybersecurity Act of 2022. Despite the fact that Russia has a huge army of cyber warriors it seems to have not coordinated a pre-invasion cyber attack very effectively, and its current operations are not decisive. Is cyberwar overrated?

Hackers Targeting Refugee Orgs. Cyber hackers from Belarus are going after organizations that are helping Ukrainian refugees and delivering humanitarian aid to Ukraine. Phishing attacks have been launched from emails pretending to be from the Ukrainian security services. “Warning: Hackers are Targeting the Ukraine Refugee Crisis”, Forbes, March 2, 2022.

Hacktivists and Cyber War. Some computer techies have a criminal focus. But we now see them opposing each other as they align with Russia or Ukraine in the current conflict. Hacktivists around the world have got involved in the Ukraine War. Ukraine put out a call for a digital army to help it resist the Russian invasion. Anonymous and other individual hackers have answered the call. Russia’s cyber army has been building its cyber capabilities over the past 15 years. “The cyberwar over Ukraine is like nothing we’ve seen before”, Deutsche Welle, March 3, 2022.

Project DYNAMO. A Tampa-based nonprofit that has been assisting in the evacuation effort of Afghans since the coming to power of the Taliban is now operating in Ukraine. Project DYNAMO recently coordinated for two buses of evacuees out of Ukraine since the Russian invasion took place. Thousands of people have requested assistance from Project DYNAMO – including American citizens, lawful permanent residents, and people from other nations. See “Tampa-based nonprofit, Project DYNAMO, rescues evacuees, including Americans, from Ukraine”, ABC Action News, March 1, 2022.

U.S. Offers TPS. The secretary for the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Alejandro Mayorkas, has created a 18-month Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program for Ukrainians who have lived in the U.S. since March 1, 2022. This allows eligible people to apply for work permits and deportation protections. This TPS designation is expected to benefit 30,000 Ukrainians living in the U.S. on temporary student, tourist, or business visas. Read more in “Secretary Mayorkas Designates Ukraine for Temporary Protected Status for 18 Months”, U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS), March 3, 2022.

$10B Ukraine Fund. Congress has been asked to provide about $10 billion to cover the cost of troop deployments to Eastern Europe, covert support to Ukraine, U.S. weapons for Ukraine, humanitarian aid, and military aid. The request (see White House letter) was made on Thursday (Mar 3). See “White House seeks new $10B Ukraine fund with half for Pentagon”, Defense News, March 3, 2022.

Evac Groups and Maps. The Kabul non-combatant evacuation operation (NEO) began in August 2021 after the fall of the Afghan government and the occupation of Kabul by the Taliban. Various volunteer groups formed up quickly to assist Afghans onto the Hamid Karzai International Airport (HKIA) in Kabul. Some of the organizations had access to numerous mapping applications to assist in their operations. One of these apps was developed by a SOF-focused firm based in Tampa, Florida called Quiet Professionals. And now, volunteer evacuation groups are setting up their map applications for the Ukraine conflict. Read more in “Offering Hope to Those Left Behind in Afghanistan”, ESRI.com, Winter 2022.

EU Membership. Ukraine has already asked for membership in the European Union. Now Moldova and Georgia are also seeking EU membership. Both countries have asked the EU to begin membership talks.

Avoiding the Larger War. While the United States and other NATO countries need to reinforce Eastern Europe and support the Ukrainian people, it needs to be careful not to escalate the current conflict into a larger war. Samuel Charap, a senior political scientist with RAND Corporation, provides some cautionary advice. “Ensuring Russia’s War with Ukraine Doesn’t Morph into Direct Conflict with NATO”, RAND Corporation, March 2, 2022.

Closing the Turkish Straits. The passage of ships through the Turkish Straits is regulated under the 1936 Montreux Convention. Turkey has the right to close the straits in time of war. On March 1, 2022, it closed the straits to warship transits. It is unclear if the closure is for just Russian warships or all warships. A professor of law at the U.S. Naval War College looks into the legal aspects of the Turkish move in “Closing the Turkish Straits in Times of War”, Articles of War, Lieber Institute West Point, March 3, 2022.

The Finnish Model of Defense. If you want ordinary people to make your society occupation-proof, you have to teach them to kill well before they need to do so. Ukraine failed in this respect. On the other hand, Finland seems quite prepared to repeat its performance of the 1939 Winter War. “How the Finns Deter Russian Invasion”, The Atlantic, March 3, 2022.

Avoiding WWIII. Aaron Stein is the director of research at the Foreign Policy Research Institute. He outlines some of the things that could happen that could get us into another world war. One scenario is the possibility of an encounter between opposing aircraft along the Polish Ukrainian border that escalates quickly. “Ukraine and a Guide to Avoiding World War III”, War on the Rocks, March 3, 2022.

Day 9 ends and the Ukrainians are still fighting for their very lives….question are still arising asking if Vlad’s forces are really up to a prolonged war….

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Ukraine And Social Media

I have bitched about the media coverage of the Ukraine/Russia conflict…..the lack of actual action footage just regurgitation of stock vids and photos….then there is social media which seems to have better coverage of the armed conflict….but then the question should be asked if their reporting is accurate or just propaganda.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has already fueled some nascent misinformation tactics, including the spread of realistic video game footage and the use of TikTok to create fake war zone livestreams.

The content highlights how misinformation on the internet tends to constantly evolve, with some older forms of misleading content remaining relevant (many users continue to share older videos mislabeled as coming from the ongoing conflict). 

And while TikTok has in recent years vowed to crack down on misinformation, its relatively recent entry into the mainstream as a major social media platform, along with some of its unique features, have made it ripe for misleading content.

https://www.nbcnews.com/tech/tech-news/war-ukraine-sparks-new-wave-misinformation-rcna17779

Maybe we should not believe everything we see on social media…..maybe we should look deeper for what the real story is…..just a thought…..

Amid the alarming images of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine over the past few days, millions of people have also seen misleading, manipulated or false information about the conflict on social media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter, TikTok and Telegram.

One example is this video of military jets posted to TikTok, which is historical footage but captioned as live video of the situation in Ukraine.

Visuals, because of their persuasive potential and attention-grabbing nature, are an especially potent choice for those seeking to mislead. Where creating, editing or sharing inauthentic visual content isn’t satire or art, it is usually politically or economically motivated.

Disinformation campaigns aim to distract, confuse, manipulate and sow division, discord, and uncertainty in the community. This is a common strategy for highly polarised nations where socioeconomic inequalities, disenfranchisement and propaganda are prevalent.

How is this fake content created and spread, what’s being done to debunk it, and how can you ensure you don’t fall for it yourself?

https://theconversation.com/fake-viral-footage-is-spreading-alongside-the-real-horror-in-ukraine-here-are-5-ways-to-spot-it-177921

This article gives the reader that truly wants to know what is happening in Ukraine and not buying into the hype then the 5 ways to spot bad info is perfect (if only people will do what is needed)

But that assumes that the reader wants to know or just follow the lies that fit what they want to believe.

So far I have seen nothing in the media that they are trying to debunk the spread of misinformation on their part…..they just keep spreading the manure of hearsay.

People are dying at least we could do is ask hard questions and find out why this is happening.

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Going Nuclear!

The situation in Ukraine keeps bring up many questions that need answers….the problem is that these issues trickle out as needed.

The latest one is the nuclear arms that Russia possesses and the possibility of their use if things go South in Ukraine.

Is it truly a possibility or just hype?

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov warned Wednesday that were World War III to begin, it would involve nuclear weapons, reports Reuters. A few days earlier, Vladimir Putin announced he was putting the nation’s nuclear deterrent forces on high alert, suggesting he was transitioning the country’s nukes to a higher level of readiness. So what are the chances we’d get to the point where Russia actually dips into its nuclear stockpile? It’s a question that’s been asked and debated in recent weeks. Some coverage:

  • The stockpile itself: The BBC looks at what Russia has: The Federation of American Scientists estimates just shy of 6,000 nuclear warheads, though roughly 1,500 have been retired and earmarked for disposal. The remaining 4,500 aren’t all ready for action, though. It’s thought about 1,500 are “deployed”—i.e., on a sub at sea or at missile and bomber bases. Its stockpile is the biggest among the nine nuclear countries on the planet.
  • Parsing Putin’s words: At the Guardian, Kristin Ven Bruusgaard observes that despite what Putin said Sunday, Russia’s nuclear arsenal “remains on a certain level of readiness even during peacetime,” and the US hasn’t detected any signs that warheads are being moved. So if little has changed, why did Putin signal a move was being made? “To influence the Western calculus by repeating that a confrontation with Russia would entail a significant nuclear risk,” en Bruusgaard writes. “To Moscow, the situation is now grave enough to gesture at its nuclear options.”
  • One scenario: At Slate, Fred Kaplan sees one scenario in which Putin might actually go nuclear: if the US or NATO gets personally involved, say by sending troops or dropping bombs. “If Putin thought he couldn’t win that war with conventional arms alone (he’s having a hard enough time against just the Ukrainian army), he might very well escalate to nuclear war. That’s what nuclear weapons are for—not just to deter a nuclear attack by an adversary but also to deter (and, if necessary, tip the course of) a large-scale conventional war.”
  • The NATO angle: At Foreign Policy, Anchal Vohra writes that Russia’s nuclear capabilities are exactly why the US and its European allies have ruled out sending troops. She points out that, “desperate to save his people, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has appealed, in vain, for immediate entry to NATO, which would oblige the alliance to come to Ukraine’s defense. ‘I’ve asked 27 leaders of Europe if Ukraine will be in NATO. I’ve asked them directly. All are afraid and did not respond,'” Zelensky said.
  • Nothing imminent: In comments to NPR, Olga Oliker of the International Crisis Group puts it like so: “I think it’s very unlikely that Moscow is just going to lob a nuclear weapon at something. Obviously it’s been a week when a lot of people’s assumptions have been challenged, but I’ll cling to this one for a while.”

More information for those that truly care whether nukes are on the table.

https://www.bbc.com/news/world-europe-60559574

Is ‘Vlad the Invader’ really moronic enough to use a nuke?

I am old enough that I remember the scenes from the first nuke that hit Japan…..maybe the world and Russia needs to be reminded just how harsh the consequences are for the use of such weapons.

Just a thought!

Update:  After I wrote this post news came out of an Russian attack on a nuke plant…..

Russian troops are shelling Europe’s largest nuclear power station in Ukraine. “We demand that they stop the heavy weapons fire,” Andriy Tuz, spokesperson for the plant in Enerhodar, said in a video posted on Telegram. “There is a real threat of nuclear danger in the biggest atomic energy station in Europe.” The plant accounts for about one-fourth of Ukraine’s power generation, the AP reports. Tuz told Ukrainian television early Friday that shells were falling directly on the Zaporizhzhia plant and had set fire to one of its six reactors. That reactor is under renovation and not operating, but there is nuclear fuel inside, he said.

Ukraine’s foreign minister pleaded with the Russians to halt their attack, per the Guardian. About 2:30am, Dmytro Kuleba tweeted: “Russian army is firing from all sides upon Zaporizhzhia NPP, the largest nuclear power plant in Europe. Fire has already broke out. Russians must IMMEDIATELY cease the fire, allow firefighters, establish a security zone!” Ukrainian firefighters cannot get near the blaze because they are under fire, Tuz said. Just the day before, the UN atomic watchdog agency expressed grave concern that the fighting could cause accidental damage to Ukraine’s 15 nuclear reactors.

A live-streamed security camera linked from the homepage of the plant showed what appeared to be armored vehicles rolling into the parking lot and shining spotlights on the building where the camera was mounted. There are then what appear to be bright muzzle flashes from vehicles and nearly simultaneous explosions in surrounding buildings. Smoke then rises and drifts across the frame. The mayor of Enerhodar said Ukrainian forces were battling Russian troops on the city’s outskirts. Video showed flames and black smoke rising above the city of more than 50,000, with people streaming past wrecked cars.

This could be devastating to Ukraine….

The fire is now under control……

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