Ukraine–Day 40

The family drama is done……I can return to my research and posting….thanx for being so patient for my absence.

The conflict started by Vlad the Invader is entering into the point of adjustment….

The Russians have failed in most all of their objectives in the war thus far. Reports as late as Sunday night (April 3) on social media and some news organizations say that the Russians have conducted a very large and disorderly withdrawal of much of northern Ukraine. In the haste to retreat enclaves of Russian soldiers are now isolated in northern Ukraine. Some open source situation maps are depicting a huge change on the ground situation over the past 48 hours. (@War_Mapper).

Plan B. The Russians are now making adjustments and have staked out more more realistic goals – primarily the capture of the Donbas region as well as a ‘land bridge’ from Russia along northern shore of the Sea of Azov to Crimea. This means they need to secure the city of Mariupol. They will continue to send reinforcements to the fight in eastern Ukraine.

Donbas. Prior to the February 2022 invasion the Russians controlled 1/3 of the Donbas region, while the Ukrainians controlled the remainder. Young men of the Donbas region are being conscripted by the Russians and sent into combat with little training, old rifles, and no equipment or supplies. (Reuters, Apr 4, 2022). At some point, Putin will declare ‘victory’ after having seized additional areas of the Donbass region and consolidates its hold on the coast of the Sea of Azov running from Russia to Crimea.

Russian War Crimes in Bucha? Social media and news organizations are reporting that while withdrawing from the town of Bucha (see Google maps) in northern Ukraine the Russians killed civilian men, women, and children in what many are calling a massacre. “Streets of Kyiv suburb ‘littered’ with bodies, 280 buried in mass grave”, New York Post, April 2, 2022. Many observers of the conflict say that there will be more such atrocities committed by the Russians (CNN, Apr 4, 2022). The European Union is considering new sanctions on Moscow in light of the ‘Bucha massacre’ and the secretary-general of the United Nations is calling for an independent investigation. (Aljazeera.com, Apr 3, 2022).

Syrians Arrive in Russia. Hundreds of Syrian fighters are now undergoing training in Russia in preparation for a deployment into Ukraine. There are also reports that Syrians have arrived in Belarus for training. Recruiters in Syria have the names of thousands of fighters who are willing to fight for Russia in Ukraine. Syrian fighters have taken part in conflicts in Libya, Azerbaijan, and the Central African Republic. Over 1,000 private contractors with the Wagner Group are fighting for Russia in the Donbas region.

Fight for the Skies. Slovakia is still willing to part with their S-300 anti-aircraft systems and send them to Ukraine . . . but they are waiting on the go-ahead from the United States and an adequate replacement. Germany has sent a Patriot battery to Slovakia. There are rumors that Washington just can’t seem to cut through its own red tape.

In its many years in Syria supporting the Assad regime Russia has employed air strikes on a large scale against Assad’s opponents. It has not been shy about bombing civilian infrastructure and populated areas. A report from 2019 reviews Russia’s air attacks in Syria. “Russia’s airstrike rules of engagement reviewed”, Action on Armed Violence (AOAV), March 14, 2019.

In defense of the aerial attacks on civilian infrastructure and the killing of thousands of civilians Russia has employed the ‘human shield’ argument, saying that Ukrainian forces are deploying their forces, artillery units, and military equipment in residential areas of its cities. “Why we need to challenge Russia’s human shields narrative”, Aljazeera, April 3, 2022.

Maritime Activities. An amphibious landing force on several ships is still positioned in the Black Sea off the coast of Odessa to land a substantial element of Russian naval infantry. However, without the capture of Mykolayiv, an amphibious landing is unlikely. The Russian blockade of Ukrainian shipping continues. NATO is warning that there is a threat of drifting mines certain areas of the Black Sea. It is also warning that the threat to civilian shipping in the area remains very high.

A combination of Russian withdrawals and Ukrainian counterattacks have resulted in the Russians vacating areas northwest and north of the capital city of Kyiv. One effective tactic of the Ukrainians appears to be the targeting of senior Russian officers. The number of Russian generals killed is staggering. “Why are so many Russian generals dying in Ukraine?”, The Economist, March 31, 2022.

Striking into Russia. Two MI-24 Hind helicopters are reported to have flown more than 20 miles into Russia destroying an oil depot in the southern city of Belgorod on Friday (Apr 1). Read more in “Ukrainian Attack Helicopters Apparently Just Slipped Into Russia and Blew Up a Fuel Depot”, Forbes.com, April 1, 2022.

Kyiv. The Russian having been moving north towards Belarus away from the city of Kyiv. The city is still experiencing aerial attacks from missile strikes. Ukraine’s state nuclear company Energoatom said that all Russian troops have left the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine. A curfew has been announced by the government for the Kyiv region recently liberated from Russian occupation so that mines and bombs emplaced by the Russians can be neutralized or removed.

Kharkiv. The second largest city of Ukraine, Kharkiv, is still under aerial attack from missiles and rockets. It is not encircled by the Russians and fierce fighting has taken place in the city over the past several weeks. India still has almost 1,000 of its citizens stranded in Kharkiv and Sumy.

Mariupol. The Red Cross was supposed to conduct a major evacuation of citizens from Mariupol on Friday (Apr 1) where 100,000 to 150,000 people remain trapped. However, the Russians are undermining any attempts to conduct an evacuation or to bring relief supplies of food and medicine to the city’s residents. Russia is considered to be just days away from capturing the city. Once captured, the Russian troops committed to the Mariupol siege will likely be involved in the conquest of the eastern Donbas region.

Mykolayiv. Although there is fighting in the outskirts of the city, the Russians are unlikely to be able to capture it. Located on the west bank of the Dnieper River close to the coast of the Black Sea, Mykolayiv is a strategic objective for the Russians that is on the road to Odessa located further west along the coast of the Black Sea.

Situation Maps.  War in Ukraine by Scribble Maps. Read an assessment and view a map of the Russian offensive campaign by the Institute for the Study of War. View more Ukraine SITMAPs that provide updates on the disposition of Russian forces. Read an interesting article of how maps tell the story of war in Ukraine (Geographical, Apr 1, 2022).

Negotiations. Agreements between the Ukrainians and Russians on the evacuation of civilians from besieged cities and the delivery of humanitarian aid have been broken as much as they have been observed. On Friday (Apr 1) the Russians took food and medication that was loaded on 12 buses bound for the southeastern city of Melitopol. They also blocked 45 buses that were to evacuate civilians from Mariupol.

Prisoner Exchange. 86 Ukrainian service personnel were part of a prisoners exchange that took place on Friday (Apr 1) in the Zaporizhzhia region. Of the 86, 15 were women.

Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. Many European countries are stepping up to welcome the refugees. Poland has accepted almost 3 million. The Netherlands is accepting 50,000 Ukrainians and about 1,500 of them will spend time on a cruise ship docked in Rotterdam. Is Putin using the Ukrainian refugees as a weapon – attacking NATO with over 4 million refugees? (Small Wars Journal, Apr 3, 2022).

UNHCR Operational Data Portal – Ukraine Refugee Situation (Updated daily).
https://data2.unhcr.org/en/situations/ukraine

Risk of Human Trafficking. Women and children fleeing Ukraine may leave the danger of the conflict area but there is still risk along the path to safety. The secretary-general of the International Federation of the Red Cross has outlined some of the risks that Ukrainians face as refugees. There are reports of suspected sex traffickers and pimps preying on Ukrainian women near refugee shelter points. They are sometimes lured into traps with offers of transport, accommodation, or work. “Refugees fleeing Ukraine at increasing risk of human trafficking, Red Cross warns”, The Telegraph, April 2, 2022. See also “Chaos in shelters for Ukrainian refugees increases risk of trafficking“, Crux, April 3, 2022.

Russian Soldiers and Sexual Violence. Women and girls have recounted the abuse they have suffered at the hands of Russian soldiers. “Rape as a weapon: huge scale of sexual violence endured in Ukraine emerges”, The Guardian, April 3, 2022.

Russia’s Economy – Small Businesses Suffering. Prices for goods and services are going higher everyday, wages are falling, consumption is falling, and supply chain problems are choking the economy. The pullout of foreign businesses and sanctions are hurting the Russians in the pocketbook and wallet. “In targeted Russian economy, businesses operate without Russian products”, The Washington Post, April 2, 2022. Popular opinion among Russians for President Putin has not seemed to have diminished significantly.

Guerrilla Warfare. Alexander Motyl, a professor of political science at Rutgers University, says the Ukrainians will soon be conducting guerrilla warfare in Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. “Russians Likely to Encounter Growing Guerrilla Warfare in Ukraine”, Foreign Policy, April 1, 2022.

Tinder Plus, Romance, and Russia. The people of Russia have been kept in the dark about the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Russian official media is providing a distorted picture of the war and misleading the Russian public. Social media in Russia has been shutdown and international media is banned. But there are ways to get through to the average Russia. Learn more in Outsmart Russian War Censorship With Love, Special Love Operation.com.

Releasing Intel for Effect. The period prior to the Russian’s invading Ukraine and over the past few months have seen an unprecedented release of intelligence to the public by government officials in the U.S., UK, and elsewhere in Europe. Intelligence agencies have been remarkedly willing to go public with their secrets about Putin and the events on the battlefield. Part of the reasoning behind this shift in intelligence sharing with the public is to keep Moscow in line – letting Putin and his generals know that the world is watching their next move . . . in hopes that this will alter their decisions. “Secret intelligence has unusually public role in Ukraine war”, Business Standard, April 3, 2022.

Russian Info Ops. The state of information operations in Russia’s hybrid war against Ukraine is examined by several experts. “GCHQ’s Assessment of Russian Information Ops”, Cyber Wire, March 31, 2022.

China’s Disinformation Campaign. Chinese state-backed media have amplified Russian conspiracy theories to spread disinformation about the war in Ukraine to a global audience. They are parroting Moscow’s talking points. It has become clear that China is aligned with Russia in the information environment. “Chinese Disinformation Seeks to Support Russia’s Invasion of Ukraine”, IntelBrief by the Soufan Center, March 28, 2022.

UK’s Starstreak in Action. The first reports on the use of the British Starstreak MANPAD are hitting the press wires. According to one report a Russian helicopter was shot down in the east of the country by a Starstreak missile on Friday (Apr 1). Footage of the attack (@EuromaidenPress) shows the tail section being hit off the Mi-28N helicopter. The missile system has been deployed to since late March. “UK missile shoots down first Russian helicopter in Ukraine war”, The Times, April 1, 2022.

German Tanks to Ukraine. Germany has approved sending of 56 former East German army tanks from the Cold War era to Ukraine. Other nations may follow suit. “Soviet-era T-72 Tanks to be Transferred to Ukraine From NATO countries”, The Warzone, April 3, 2022.

$300 Million More for Ukraine from U.S. The United States is sending an additional $300 million in military equipment to Ukraine. These include laser-guide rocket systems, Switchblade Tactical Unmanned Aerial Systems, Puma UAVs, armored wheeled vehicles, ammunition, thermal imagery and optics, communications gear, and more.

“Liaising” not “Training”. Despite references to U.S. troops training Ukrainians in Poland by President Biden during his recent trip to Europe, the DoD is insisting that no training is taking place. The Pentagon denied that it is training Ukrainian soldiers in Poland, saying that the U.S. is merely “liaising” while helping to ship weapons. “US Says It’s Just Hanging Out with Ukrainian Soldiers While Giving Them Weapons, Not Training Them”, Vice.com, March 30, 2022.

Russia’s Trade Status with U.S. A short brief by the Congressional Research Service provides information about the history of Russia’s trading status, the trade impact of removing Russia’s permanent normal trade relations (PNTR), World Trade Organization (WTO) issues, and more. Read Russia’s Trade Status, Tariffs, and WTO Issues, CRS IF12071, April 1, 2022, PDF, 3 pages.
https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/IF/IF12071

NATO’s Priority -Air Defense. Putin’s War in Ukraine could easily spill over into the bordering neighboring countries. Poland and the Baltic countries are at considerable risk – especially from the aerial threat posed by Russia’s advanced surface-to-air missile systems and aircraft. NATO must deploy additional anti-air systems and aircraft to the ‘eastern flank countries’. “Priority #1 for NATO: Upgrading Air and Missile Defense in Eastern Europe”, Real Clear Defense, April 4, 2022.

Future of Tanks. The effectiveness of the Ukrainian anti-armor missiles and drone attacks against Russian armor has defense tacticians relooking at the role of the tank in modern warfare. “The future of armoured vehicles: Requirements and capabilities”, Army-Technology.com, March 30, 2022.

Remaking NATO. For several years the North Atlantic Treaty Organization was a construct searching for a purpose. It soon found itself involved in the Afghan War (Article 5 was invoked in support of the U.S.) and in Iraq with its training mission. With the Russian invasion of Ukraine it now is being re-purposed back to its original mission – confronting Russia (the nucleus of the old Soviet Union). Read more in “The War in Ukraine is Remaking the NATO Alliance”, by Andrew A. Michta, Real Clear Defense, April 4, 2022.

And the beat goes on…..

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“lego ergo scribo”

Insurrection Update #26

The continuing saga of the idiots that took part in the failed coup of 06 January……

Looks like the Proud Boys are in the news again….this time a document has come to light with directions on how to proceed with the proposed takeover of the Capitol…..

When the former leader of the Proud Boys was arrested last week for his alleged role in coordinating the Capitol riot, prosecutors made reference to a document found in his possession. Now the New York Times is reporting new details, and they don’t appear to bode well for Enrique Tarrio as he fights conspiracy charges. The newspaper describes it as a “specific written plan to storm and occupy government buildings” the day of the Stop the Steal rally. It doesn’t specifically mention the Capitol, but the document lays out strategies to gain control of seven high-profile government buildings, and it generally matches what actually unfolded at the Capitol. From the story by Alan Feuer:

  • “Broken into five parts—Infiltrate, Execution, Distract, Occupy and Sit-In—the nine-page document recommends recruiting at least 50 people to enter each of the seven government buildings and advises protesters to appear ‘unsuspecting’ and to ‘not look tactical,'” writes Feuer. “After ensuring that crowds at the buildings are “full and ready to go,” the document suggests that ‘leads and seconds’ should enter and open doors for others to go in, ‘causing trouble’ to distract security guards, if necessary.”

Tarrio, who wasn’t actually in DC the day of the riot and has since stepped down as Proud Boys leader, remains in custody, and Justice Department lawyers argued Monday that he should remain so, reports CNN. In a filing, they provided new details of a meeting between Tarrio and the leader of another far-right group, the Oath Keepers, in a DC parking garage on Jan. 5. In the meeting, Tarrio said he had wiped messages from his phone and said it was safely protected anyway. Prosecutors also say Tarrio declared, “We did this” the following day in an encrypted chat, in regard to the storming of the Capitol. When somebody asked what should happen next, he allegedly responded, “Do it again.”

The last statement sums up the feelings among these useless insurrectionists, “Do it again”.

It is possible that some of these convicted insurrectionists will try to get their case heard by the Supreme Court…..and that could work in their favor….

It seems that one of the wives of a sitting judge was ass deep in the insurrection….

Clarence Thomas’ wife, who has already come under scrutiny, reveals to the Washington Free Beacon that she attended the Jan. 6, 2021, “Stop the Steal” rally that preceded the mob attack on the US Capitol. However, Virginia “Ginni” Thomas says she got cold and left before then-President Trump even took the stage. “I was disappointed and frustrated that there was violence that happened following a peaceful gathering of Trump supporters on the Ellipse on Jan. 6,” she says. “There are important and legitimate substantive questions about achieving goals like electoral integrity, racial equality, and political accountability that a democratic system like ours needs to be able to discuss and debate rationally in the political square. I fear we are losing that ability.”

She adds that she had no part in helping to organize the rally, as has recently been alleged in multiple news pieces, and that her political activities have nothing to do with her husband or his position as a Supreme Court justice. “Like so many married couples, we share many of the same ideals, principles, and aspirations for America,” she says. “But we have our own separate careers, and our own ideas and opinions too. Clarence doesn’t discuss his work with me, and I don’t involve him in my work.” After much speculation on her involvement in the events of Jan. 6, the Washington Post reports this is the first time Thomas has publicly acknowledged being in attendance.

Time for Thomas to recuse himself from anything that his wife is involved in….like this situation and her work with Big Pharma…..he needs to be challenged….period.

More good news….yet another d/bag goes to trial…..

An elected official from New Mexico went to trial with a judge—not a jury—set to decide if he is guilty of charges that he illegally entered the US Capitol grounds on the day a pro-Trump mob disrupted the certification of Joe Biden’s presidential election victory. US District Judge Trevor McFadden is scheduled to hear attorneys’ closing arguments Tuesday for the case against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, whose trial in Washington, DC, is the second among the hundreds of people charged with federal crimes related to the Jan. 6, 2021, siege. (The first ended in Guy Wesley Reffitt being found guilty on all counts.) The judge heard testimony Monday from three government witnesses. Griffin’s lawyer said he doesn’t plan to call any defense witnesses, the AP reports.

The case against Griffin is unlike most of the Capitol riot prosecutions. He is one of the few riot defendants who isn’t accused of entering the Capitol or engaging in any violent or destructive behavior. Smith said prosecutors apparently believe Griffin engaged in disorderly conduct by peacefully leading a prayer on the Capitol steps. “That is offensive and wrong,” Smith told the judge during his brief opening statements. Griffin claims he has been selectively prosecuted for his political views. Griffin, one of three members of the Otero County Commission in southern New Mexico, is among a handful of riot defendants who either held public office or ran for a government leadership post in the 2 1/2 years before the attack. He is among only three riot defendants who have asked for a bench trial, which means a judge will decide his case without a jury.

Griffin, a 48-year-old former rodeo rider and pastor, helped found a political committee called Cowboys for Trump. He had vowed to arrive at the courthouse on horseback. Instead, he showed up Monday as a passenger in a pickup truck that had a horse trailer on the back. Griffin is charged with two misdemeanors: entering and remaining in a restricted building or grounds and disorderly and disruptive conduct in a restricted building or grounds. A key question in Griffin’s case is whether he entered a restricted area outside the Capitol while Pence was still present on Capitol grounds, a prerequisite for the US Secret Service to invoke access restrictions. In a court filing, prosecutors called Griffin “an inflammatory provocateur and fabulist who engages in racist invective and propounds baseless conspiracy theories, including that Communist China stole the 2020 Presidential Election.”

Guilty!

A federal judge on Tuesday convicted an elected official from New Mexico of illegally entering restricted US Capitol grounds but acquitted him of engaging in disorderly conduct during the riot that disrupted Congress from certifying Joe Biden’s presidential election victory, per the AP. US District Court Judge Trevor McFadden heard one day of testimony without a jury on Monday before handing down a verdict in the misdemeanor case against Otero County Commissioner Couy Griffin, a 48-year-old former rodeo rider who helped found a group called Cowboys for Trump. He faces a maximum sentence of one year in jail when sentenced in June.

McFadden, a nominee of then-President Trump, said there was ample evidence that Griffin knew he was in a restricted area and didn’t leave. Griffin crossed over three walls, needing help from others or a ladder to get over them, the judge noted. “All of this would suggest to a normal person that perhaps you should not be entering the area,” McFadden said from the bench. But the judge said prosecutors didn’t meet their burden to prove that Griffin engaged in disorderly conduct. “Arguably, he was trying to calm people down, not rile them up,” he said.

One year?

Hell you get more time for a bag of weed than breaching of the Capitol…..something is wrong with that.

More to come I assume…..

I Read, I Write, You Know

“lego ergo scribo”

What Do Americans Think Of War?

My regular visitors will know that I am a staunch opponent of war…..after serving in Vietnam for 2 and half years I saw the obscenities of war close-up and personal…..once I returned to the US I became a hardcore anti-war activist and protester……but that is just me.

But it will be interesting just what do Americans think about war…..and the site fivethirtyeight.com took a great ;look at the question.

It’s hard to remember now that it’s over, but the war in Afghanistan was overwhelmingly popular when it began. 

Merely a week after Sept. 11, then-president George W. Bush signed a joint resolution from Congress authorizing the use of force against those responsible, and the U.S. and British, with international support, began bombing Taliban and Al-Qaeda forces Oct. 7. The American public almost universally approved this rush to war: A Gallup poll conducted soon after found that 90 percent supported the war and only 5 percent opposed it. 

The circumstances, of course, were very particular: There had been an attack on American soil. When Bush’s war on terror expanded to Iraq in 2003, more Americans questioned the reasoning behind going to war — skepticism that turned out to be justified — and there were high-profile protests against the Bush administration, but still an overwhelming majority supported the effort: About 76 percent approved and 20 percent disapproved, according to Gallup.

With time, though, both wars became less popular. A Pew Research Center survey conducted last August, after the U.S. had fully withdrawn from the country, found that a majority of Americans supported the decision to leave Afghanistan, even as a plurality thought the Biden administration had handled the withdrawal badly, while a July 2021 Gallup poll found that 47 percent of Americans thought the war had been a mistake. Many younger Americans had grown up entirely during the war’s 20-year duration and so hadn’t formed an opinion at the war’s inception, while many older Americans had changed their minds as its costs multiplied over time.

What Do Americans Think About War?

Almost daily we hear one pundit after another telling us all about the horrors that the people of Ukraine are suffering….but I do not remember there being that much concern for others that we had fought in the past and what it did to the civilian population.

To be honest there was reports scattered around the news cycle….but nothing like the 24 hours of constant visual theater.

Personally, to answer the question I do not feel that the American people really care about war…..as long as they can continue to go to Starbucks for $10 coffee all is well in the world.

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“lego ergo scribo”