Ukraine–Day 41

“I hate war as only a soldier who has lived it can, only as one who has seen its brutality, its futility, its stupidity”…….Dwight D. Eisenhower

“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell”……. William Tecumseh Sherman

Another day in Hell…..

This is your one stop shopping for information on Ukraine and the conflict…..

Russian Withdrawal. The retreat of Russian troops from areas in northern Ukraine (Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, etc.) is welcome news for the civilians that live in those areas. It is estimated that roughly 2/3s of the Russian forces in this area have departed and are in Belarus. Many of the Russian battalion tactical groups (BTGs) will reorganize, resupply, and refit in either Belarus or Russia before being committed to the fight for the Donbas region in the eastern part of Ukraine. Some BTGs are in better shape than others – the reorganization will distribute weapons, equipment, vehicles, and personnel to bring BTGs back up to strength. Some BTGs may be combined to reconstitute fully manned and operational fighting units. Russia invaded Ukraine with more than 125 battalion tactical groups on February 24, and many are still in Ukraine or refitting in Belarus.

Donbas Region. The main objective of Putin’s War is now the Donetsk and Luhansk Oblasts in eastern Ukraine, sometimes called the Donbas region. However, Ukrainian forces continue to defend this territory and any Russian gains are incremental at best. Some Russian forces are advancing south from the outskirts of Kharkiv into this region – there may be an attempt to encircle Ukrainian forces in the east, cutting them off from their supply lines coming from the interior of Ukraine.

Devastation. As the Russian withdraw the extent of the devastation of much of the occupied area is now being revealed. For instance, the city of Irpin located northwest of Kyiv had a pre-war population of 60,000. Now just 3,500 residents are there and many of the homes and business are destroyed. Throughout the region the Russians are leaving behind mines and boobytraps that pose a danger.

Bucha Massacre. Satellite imagery provided by Mazar Technologies is showing a number of dead bodies in the streets of Bucha since March 11, while Russia occupied the town. The images debunk Russia’s claim that Ukrainian soldiers were responsible for the killings of civilians.

President Zelensky will address the United Nations Security Council on Tuesday (Apr 5). He is predicting the reporting of more instances of mass killings of civilians by Russians as Ukrainian forces push forward in the formerly Russian-occupied areas of Ukraine. The United States plans to ask the United Nations General Assembly to suspend Russia from the UN Human Rights Council. A vote may take place this week on the proposal.

Kyiv. The capital city of Ukraine was once considered the primary objective of the Russians. However, the Russians are now denying that they wanted to take the capital. Missile strikes continue to hit Kyiv although most Russian artillery is now out of range of the city. It is unlikely the Russians will make another attempt to capture Kyiv with ground troops.

Kharkiv. The Russians may still attempt to capture Kharkiv located in the northeast of the country. Ukrainian defense officials say that the Russians are concentrating their forces in the Donbas region and around Kharkiv. The city is the second largest in Ukraine with a pre-war population of 1.4 million people. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is assisting in the delivery of safe drinking water – to the Kharkiv Vodokanal water system with the provision of liquefied chlorine for water purification.

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. There are numerous reports that the city will ‘fall in days’, however, the Ukrainian forces still are in control of parts of the city.

Mykolayiv and Then Odessa. Reports by Ukrainian officials says that the Russians recently used cluster bombs in Mykolayiv, killing a number of civilians. The bombardment of this city is continuing. The Russians consider the capture of this city a key to being able to attack and capture Odessa located further west along the coast of the Black Sea. The Russians are hitting some of the Ukrainian fuel depots. One fuel supply point was hit in Odessa over the weekend.

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.

Refugees, IDPs, and Humanitarian Crisis. More than 3,000 people were evacuated from the areas around Mariupol, Zaporizhia, and Berdyansk on Monday (Apr 4). Some Ukrainians are having difficulty in accessing food, water, medicine, and other basic necessities. The World Food Programme (WFP) has assisted one million people in the eastern, northern, and southern oblasts of Ukraine since the start of the Ukraine War. Read the Office of the Commissioner of Humanitarian Assistance (OCHA) report published on Monday (Apr 4).

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

Diplomacy. Forty Russian diplomats are no longer welcome in Germany. They have been given five days to pack their bags and leave. Lithuania has also taken diplomatic action – downgrading its ties with Russia and closing the Russian consulate in Klaipeda. China continues to be allied with Russia – although publicly it says it is not picking sides. The New York Times (subscription) says that the Chinese Communist Party is pushing a campaign that paints Russia as a long-suffering victim rather than as an aggressor. China says that its strong ties with Russia is vital to deterring Western dominance.

U.S. Weapons for Ukraine. The United States has committed to providing more than $1.6 billion in security assistance to Ukraine since the Russian invasion in February 2022. Javelins, Stingers, UAVs and more continue to flow to Ukraine. A new development is the news that the U.S. is sending limited quantaties of a more robust version of the Switchblade drone, in addition to the 100 that are supposedly on the way to Ukraine in a previous shipment. The U.S. is continuing its robust schedule of exercises in Europe in conjunction with its NATO partners. The biannual exercise Northern Viking will begin that includes the U.S. 6th Fleet in the Iceland area. This exercise demonstrates the U.S. commitment to the defense of Iceland and the Greenland-Iceland-United Kingdom gap – sometimes referred to as the GIUK gap.

Report – Foreign Fights, Mercenaries, and Others. A recently published report examines the non-state actors fighting for Ukraine and Russia. Foreign Fighters, Volunteers, and Mercenaries: Non-State Actors and Narratives in Ukraine, The Soufan Center, April 2022, PDF, 39 pages.

Sanctions – Will They Work? Comprehensive sanctions against a country do hurt the target country’s economy. It also can damage the economy of the countries imposing the sanctions. For instance, Russian oil is being sanctioned, but that is putting European nations in an energy crunch. Putting aside America’s untouched energy resources, Iran and Venezuela both can pick up the slack in oil shipments. But both of these countries are also under a sanction regime of sorts. Read more in an article by David Uren – a senior fellow at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. “History shows the West’s sanctions on Russia could backfire”, The Strategist, ASPI, April 5, 2022.

India and Putin’s War. India is taking some hits on its neutral stance on the Ukrainian conflict. However, observers shouldn’t be surprised with the country’s hesitancy to criticize Russia for its aggression towards Ukraine. India depends on Russia for its supply of weapons for India’s armed forces – especially needed to counter the ambitions of Pakistan and China in the South Asian and Indo-Pacific region. India and Russia have a long history of friendship going back to the Cold War. It may be time for India to diversify the sources of its weapons fielded to its military forces. “The Ukraine-Russia War: An Uncertain Future for Indian Defense Modernization”, Georgetown Security Studies Review, April 4, 2022.

UNCN. The Ukraine NGO Coordination Network is an organization that ties together U.S.-based 501c3 organizations and non-profit humanitarian organizations that are working to evacuate and support those in need affected by the Ukraine crisis. https://uncn.one

Maps of Ukraine
https://www.national-security.info/ukraine/maps.html

Ukraine Conflict Info. The Ukrainians have launched a new website that will provide information about the war. It is entitled Russia Invaded Ukraine and can be found at https://war.ukraine.ua/.

Ukrainian Think Tanks – Brussels. Consolidated information on how to help Ukraine from abroad and stay up to date on events.

Weapons of the Ukraine War.
https://www.national-security.info/ukraine/weapons.html

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Ukraine And PR

Yes Irene this conflict has a large element of public relations attached to it……my first question is how much is the PR campaign costing the US….oh my bad….Ukraine?

Since the beginning I have been one voice questioning the reporting and the ‘news’ coming out of Ukraine with the invasion of the forces of ‘Vlad the Invader’…..in a recent I stated my concerns…..

 
Now my concerns have legs….NATO commander who told the Washington Post, “They are really excellent in stratcom — media, info ops, and also psy-ops.” The Post ultimately conceded that “Western officials say that while they cannot independently verify much of the information that Kyiv puts out about the evolving battlefield situation, including casualty figures for both sides, it nonetheless represents highly effective stratcom.”
 
If the news cannot be verified then it is hearsay, something I have been saying since the start of this conflict.
 
Ukraine has an army of PR pitchmen, lobbyists and propagandists….

Since the Russian offensive inside Ukraine commenced on February 24, the Ukrainian military has cultivated the image of a plucky little army standing up to the Russian Goliath. To bolster the perception of Ukrainian military mettle, Kiev has churned out a steady stream of sophisticated propaganda aimed at stirring public and official support from Western countries.

The campaign includes language guides, key messages, and hundreds of propaganda posters, some of which contain fascist imagery and even praise Neo-Nazi leaders.

Behind Ukraine’s public relations effort is an army of foreign political strategists, Washington DC lobbyists, and a network of intelligence-linked media outlets.

Key to the propaganda effort is an international legion of public relations firms working directly with Ukraine’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to wage information warfare.

According to the industry news site PRWeek, the initiative was launched by an anonymous figure who allegedly founded a Ukraine-based public relations firm.

“From the first hour of war, we decided to join the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to help them distribute the official sources to show the truth,” the nameless figure told PR Week. “This is a hybrid war: the mix of bloodily struggling fight with a huge disinformation and fake campaign lead by Russia [sic].”

According to the anonymous figure, more than 150 public relations firms have joined the propaganda blitz.

Ukraine’s Propaganda War: International PR Firms, DC Lobbyists and CIA Cutouts

This war has become a profit making industry…..makes the old saying “war is good business” all the more true.

Once again I urge my readers to look at this conflict without the veil of emotions…..for emotions make the deaths of hundreds more acceptable.

I refuse to make my observations on the shoulders of emotional reactions….I can separate my emotions from the situation.

Please do not accept what you are told….look beyond and find the real story.

Please do not believe for a moment that I am apologizing for Putin….if you do then you would be wrong.

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The Trend Continues

The elections of 2016 and 2020 were choke full of accusations of election tampering….from Russia and even some theories that China was also involved…..and the trend of accusations has gone international.

This time it is Hungary….the candidate has accused Ukraine of tampering in their recent election…..

Hungary has accused Ukraine of attempting to interfere in its upcoming election, claiming the government is working with local leftists to sway the race in favor of opposition parties. Kiev denied the charge, though has condemned Budapest for not taking a harder line against the Russian invasion. 

In a social media post on Wednesday, Hungarian Foreign Minister Peter Szijjarto said there is “ongoing coordination” between left-wing parties and Ukrainian officials, adding that opposition figures plan to throw more support to Kiev should they win the April 3 election. He provided no evidence to back the assertion, but claimed the meddling was discussed in an intercepted call between Ukrainian diplomats. 

“The Hungarian left made a promise that if they were in government, they would immediately decide on the transfer of armaments to Ukraine and immediately vote in favor of sanctions on oil and gas shipments to Europe and Hungary,” the FM said.

https://libertarianinstitute.org/news-roundup/hungary-accuses-ukraine-of-election-meddling-as-europes-anti-putin-coalition-pushes-for-tougher-russia-response/

It appears that Orban has won the election…and the accusations continue…..

Prime Minister Viktor Orban declared victory in Sunday’s national elections, claiming a mandate for a fourth term as a partial vote count predicted a strong lead for his right-wing party. In a 10-minute speech to Fidesz party officials and supporters at an election night event in Budapest, Orban addressed a crowd cheering “Viktor!” and declared it was a “huge victory” for his party. “We won a victory so big that you can see it from the moon, and you can certainly see it from Brussels,” said Orban, who has often been condemned by the European Union for democratic backsliding and alleged corruption, the AP reports.

 

 

“The whole world has seen tonight in Budapest that Christian democratic politics, conservative civic politics, and patriotic politics have won. We are telling Europe that this is not the past, this is the future,” Orban said. While votes were still being tallied, it appeared clear that the question was not whether Orban’s Fidesz party would take the election, but by how much. With 75% of votes tallied, his coalition had won 54.5%, while a pro-European opposition coalition, United for Hungary, had nearly 34%, according to the National Election Office. It appeared possible that Fidesz would win another constitutional majority, allowing it to keep making deep changes to the Central European nation.

Orban is a longtime ally of Russian President Vladimir Putin, and was criticized this weekend by Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy for not taking a stand against Russia’s invasion. “He is virtually the only one in Europe to openly support Mr. Putin,” Zelensky said. The election was expected to be the closest since Orban took power in 2010, after Hungary’s six main opposition parties put aside their ideological differences to form a united front against Fidesz. Voters were electing lawmakers to the country’s 199-seat parliament. In a surprise, radical right-wing party Our Homeland Movement appeared to have garnered more than 6% of the vote, exceeding the 5% threshold needed to gain seats in parliament.

The key to this situation is the fact that Orban is an ally to Putin, Vlad the Invader…..this could be significant as this conflict drags out.

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