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Ukraine 8


Werthead
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Just now, Pebble thats Stubby said:

I'm sure they are being very loudly letting Russia know exactly where they are and what vehicles they are traveling in at all times.  precisely to avoid the Russians accidently attacking them.

It's said it's been kept secret. They were in Ukraine already when it was announced.

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18 minutes ago, Pebble thats Stubby said:

that seems a silly idea, and an easy way for accidental escalation.  

I do not know what to think about it. Probably travel from border to Kiyev through central Ukraine is secure, one can get to the city from the south without any problems too.

So firstly to kill or capture specific person Russians should have known of the person's presence. Maybe it was better even not to tempt them.

There are some safety experts around these figures anyway. I hope.

Edited by broken one
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2 hours ago, broken one said:

Prime ministers of Poland, Slovenia and Czech Republic are said to be going to Kiyev today to meet Zelensky. If you can transport a prime minister to Kiyev you can do the same with potatos and onion.

 

 

1 hour ago, broken one said:

Kaczyński goes there too :P shame, they sould have sent him to Mariupol.

So they heard you and are sending potatoes to Kyiv. Well, one potato.

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It's a fucking hell of a brass balls statement. It also shows that Kyiv is still open for business (kind of).

Talks set to resume today, but it also looks like the Russians want to escalate their attack on Kyiv.

This is a very interesting moment. The Russians do not have Kyiv surrounded. There are large Ukrainian military forces still active and still achieving successes on the outskirts of the city. An advance from the east was blocked yesterday. If the Russians want to attack Kyiv *now* their chances of success are very dim.

It might be a sign that they have a deadline of when they need a breakthrough by and, if not, reach a negotiated settlement.

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3 minutes ago, Ser Scot A Ellison said:

If it’s that bad for the Russians… why aren’t they being rolled up and pushed back?

The Ukrainian success so far has been down to two successful tactics. The first is creating defensive positions which are able to draw in Russian units and then destroy them with drones, mobile artillery, Javelins and Stingers. This has been devastatingly effective against infantry, armor, helicopters and even some fixed-wing aircraft. It's clearly ineffective against the Russian big artillery, but using big artillery is difficult, time-consuming and also dangerous (some big Russian artillery pieces have been taken out by drones and even limited sorties by the Ukrainian Air Force. The Ukrainians have been doing this in the field and in urban areas.

The second tactic is deploying mixed units of infantry with anti-vehicle weapons and letting them go mad on Russian supply lines, in the Russian rear, cutting off isolated patrols etc. All very well and good and allowing Ukraine to win the battle of attrition.

However, Ukrainian successes in counter-attacks against large Russian formations have been limited. The Ukrainian battlefield command and control systems are limited in their effectiveness, and the Ukrainians lack large armor punching capability that we've seen, or have been reluctant to use it so far. Many Ukrainian forces, particularly scratch militia and reservists, are also short of encrypted comms and vehicles, so they are in a similar position to the Russians. In addition, the Russian tactic of enforcing strongpoints near their railheads is extremely difficult to overcome (and a reason I think that southern Ukraine, with the land corridor from Crimea to Dontesk via Mariupol will be very hard to retake, though Kherson might just be doable) without heavier firepower. Sorties near the south coast are also in the shadow of Russian missile and artillery fire from their coastal blockade.

To put it another way, the Ukrainians have had tremendous success in blunting and stopping the Russian advance and then bleeding it, but limited success in reversing it (having said that, they did yesterday successfully reinforce a counter-attack from last week aimed at preventing Kharkiv from being encircled). They likely won't risk that until they feel the Russians are really at the end of their rope, exhausted and ready to be turned back in full.

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14 hours ago, Werthead said:
The China-US meeting today in Italy was apparently quite tough on this matter. The Chinese line is that they have not received such a request, which to me sounds like they probably have but they have not granted it, no matter how much "positivity" they projected.

 

An alternative explanation of the Russia-China arms deal is that this is just part of larger negotiations, not some emergency request that happened only because of Russian losses in Ukraine.  China and Russia have been buying weapons from each other for decades, and another such round of purchases could well be in the works.  This twitter thread guesses that US is pointing out that this arms deal is in development, but leaving out the context that it would probably be happening regardless of Ukraine.  Any weapons deal with China will take time (months, probably) and then will need to be shipped, so the idea that Chinese weapons could be on the battlefield anytime soon is farfetched. 

 

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Yet another Russian general has possibly been killed.

Azov Battalion, the problematic pro-Ukraine group that are currently mounting the defense of Mariupol alongside regular Ukrainian forces, has released some new photos from the fighting. Among them is a body of a currently unidentified Russian wearing the shoulder straps of a general.

In other news, Russia continues its progress to being cartoonishly evil:

Granted, the public announcements of Ukraine's MI hasn't always been accurate (possibly deliberately). They have released photos of the document though, which is more than usual.

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Interesting stuff on Putin's inner circle.

The comments have some interesting thoughts on the Russian-Chinese relationship, but it doesn't acknowledge that internal debate on Russia becoming an important-but-subsidiary partner to China if it cannot reforge its own empire has been an ongoing theme in Russian political discussions for years.

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Interesting Q+A with Stalin biographer/Russian historian Stephen Kotkin.  Did someone already post this?  Anyways, he has a good perspective on Russia and it's place in the world.  Couple of relevant quotes:

Quote

[Putin]’s getting what he wants to hear. In any case, he believes that he’s superior and smarter. This is the problem of despotism. It’s why despotism, or even just authoritarianism, is all-powerful and brittle at the same time. Despotism creates the circumstances of its own undermining. The information gets worse. The sycophants get greater in number. The corrective mechanisms become fewer. And the mistakes become much more consequential.

Anyone who's taken Poly Sci classes has discussed the weaknesses of authoritarianism, but I thought this was an eloquent summary. 

Quote

The problem with their argument is that it assumes that, had NATO not expanded, Russia wouldn’t be the same or very likely close to what it is today. What we have today in Russia is not some kind of surprise. It’s not some kind of deviation from a historical pattern. Way before NATO existed—in the nineteenth century—Russia looked like this: it had an autocrat. It had repression. It had militarism. It had suspicion of foreigners and the West. This is a Russia that we know, and it’s not a Russia that arrived yesterday or in the nineteen-nineties. It’s not a response to the actions of the West. There are internal processes in Russia that account for where we are today.

I think this is sad but true.  The West certainly made mistakes in how it encouraged capitalism in Russia but didn't help really build the institutions to protect civil society.  The resulting collapse of the Russian standard of living in the 1990s, and the ensuing authoritarianism is easily forseeable in hindsight.  But the expansion of NATO wasn't a mistake, quite the opposite.  The counterfactual where NATO didn't expand at all is one where Russian aggression into Ukraine and other eastern european countries probably occurs even sooner. 

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13 minutes ago, Werthead said:

Interesting stuff on Putin's inner circle.

The comments have some interesting thoughts on the Russian-Chinese relationship, but it doesn't acknowledge that internal debate on Russia becoming an important-but-subsidiary partner to China if it cannot reforge its own empire has been an ongoing theme in Russian political discussions for years.

That's a really interesting article, and a bit grim in that it seems the power brokers in Russia may all be in alignment of the neccesity of this war. 

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3 minutes ago, Darzin said:

That's a really interesting article, and a bit grim in that it seems the power brokers in Russia may all be in alignment of the neccesity of this war. 

The oligarchs are not, and there is significant speculation that many of the inner circle are dependent on the oligarchs for some of their power even if the oligarchs themselves are not in rulership positions (since they are spending too much of their time on superyachts in the Med or luxury third homes in London or whatever), so the oligarchs retain influence and their importance in a post-war regrowth phase may grow (if possible).

The real question is whether the inner circle is prepared to allow an independent but narked off Ukraine on their border in lieu of a Western-allied Ukraine or a completely-conquered Ukraine that sees Russia expend almost all of its strength to do so, at the risk of losing its geostrategic alliance with China (the best bet for a future defeat of NATO/the West in total, or at least a rolling back of their influence). That may determine if a realistic peace deal is possible in the imminent future (the best hope for avoiding any kind of major escalation on all fronts, which is not in the Russian inner circle's interest).

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