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#16 Ukraine the brave, the whole World is watching!


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7 hours ago, DireWolfSpirit said:

A USA TODAY article is reporting that Germany has said it will now be forced to increase its burning of coal to make up the shortfall from Russian natural gas cuts and decreased delivery from the Nord Stream pipeline.

Thanks a lot Putin.

Closing down a bunch of their own nuclear power plants didn't help them out much, either.

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17 minutes ago, Wilbur said:

Closing down a bunch of their own nuclear power plants didn't help them out much, either.

The problem was more the previous administration(s) under Merkel really stalling on switching to renewable energies and cutting subsidies. If you ever need an example of how a goverment can kill an industry: Germany and the solar industry. That sector has effectively been killed by Merkel and her minister for the economy Peter Altmaier. Germany was the global leader in producing solar cells. That is now China. Overall in the sector of production of renewable energies she oversaw the loss of 80.000+ jobs. Add to that Bavaria introducing ludicrous laws on how far wind turbines have be away from residential areas over the years. Conservative goverments being shit, costing jobs, and creating long term problems.

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38 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

The problem was more the previous administration(s) under Merkel really stalling on switching to renewable energies and cutting subsidies. If you ever need an example of how a goverment can kill an industry: Germany and the solar industry. That sector has effectively been killed by Merkel and her minister for the economy Peter Altmaier. Germany was the global leader in producing solar cells. That is now China. Overall in the sector of production of renewable energies she oversaw the loss of 80.000+ jobs. Add to that Bavaria introducing ludicrous laws on how far wind turbines have be away from residential areas over the years. Conservative goverments being shit, costing jobs, and creating long term problems.

I remember breathless articles in the UK press about how we needed to emulate Germany's approach to solar and they just abruptly stopped.

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49 minutes ago, A Horse Named Stranger said:

That sector has effectively been killed by Merkel and her minister for the economy Peter Altmaier. Germany was the global leader in producing solar cells. That is now China.

This is off-topic so for brevity I'll stick in a spoiler thing so it's collapsed nicely, but TL;DR I don't think Merkel and Altmaier killed anything, seriously speaking.

Spoiler

I think this is a strange interpretation of the reality that Germany was never going to be the world leader in producing solar cells for long. It had an early mover advantage, but it peaked at 20% of the production ~2008 (when the  whole world produced 7000 megawatts of PV capacity, vs... nearly 180,000 megawatts in 2020)  and was down to 6% by 2012.  China has the rare earths needed in its backyard and mining projects there get going a lot more quickly (and more hazardously, for workers and for the environment) than in Germany (or indeed most of Europe), so it was always going to be cheaper. The amount of subsidies the government would have to provide to keep Germany competitive would be mind-boggling. The best that could be done, realistically, is to help give the industry a soft landing as it fell down to its proper level in the global marketplace. Maybe it overshot a little bit, I can't say, but there's no way the industry was going to sustain those 80,000 PV production jobs.

Asia produces something like 81% of the photovolatic cells as of 2020, China alone accounting for 70% of that. Germany produces... well, less than 0.3%, at least, because that's as far down as this list goes before grouping the rest of the world as "Other".

 

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46 minutes ago, Ran said:

This is off-topic so for brevity I'll stick in a spoiler thing so it's collapsed nicely, but TL;DR I don't think Merkel and Altmaier killed anything, seriously speaking.

  Reveal hidden contents

I think this is a strange interpretation of the reality that Germany was never going to be the world leader in producing solar cells for long. It had an early mover advantage, but it peaked at 20% of the production ~2008 (when the  whole world produced 7000 megawatts of PV capacity, vs... nearly 180,000 megawatts in 2020)  and was down to 6% by 2012.  China has the rare earths needed in its backyard and mining projects there get going a lot more quickly (and more hazardously, for workers and for the environment) than in Germany (or indeed most of Europe), so it was always going to be cheaper. The amount of subsidies the government would have to provide to keep Germany competitive would be mind-boggling. The best that could be done, realistically, is to help give the industry a soft landing as it fell down to its proper level in the global marketplace. Maybe it overshot a little bit, I can't say, but there's no way the industry was going to sustain those 80,000 PV production jobs.

Asia produces something like 81% of the photovolatic cells as of 2020, China alone accounting for 70% of that. Germany produces... well, less than 0.3%, at least, because that's as far down as this list goes before grouping the rest of the world as "Other".

 

All fair, but I meant more the subsidies for homeowners, who want(ed) to install solar panels on their roofs. That one got gutted big time. (yes, demand side economics)

There are few other silly rules, caps on how much energy can be fed into the grid, and how high the compensatory payment for that extra electricity should be for the homeowners. The latter bit is one key element, needless to say, that one got slashed big time, too. (As intended by a law passed in 2012, which was basically the ringing of the death bell for that sector). 

You can guess what happened: The demand side collapsed. That's what actually killed the German solar industry. While China had the resource, the German industry (as an early starter bonus) had the technical know how. There they were a fair bit ahead of the Chinese.

There are a few other policy areas could name, renewing the power lines to transport energy from the north (offshore wind parks) to the south. Which was/is admittedly not entirely down to the federal goverment and those wasted 16 years of Merkelism, but it played its part.

But since I agree, this is really a different subject and straying a fair bit off topic from the actual Ukraine war (altho still related, as in why the EU is still financing Russia's war)

Edited by A Horse Named Stranger
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On 6/17/2022 at 4:37 PM, Werthead said:

Basically Russia's economy is in the shitter and going more in the shitter and Putin's speech was just suggesting some ways that will stop it going in the shitter but, effectively, will not. Some of the people in the audience are people who've spoken out against the war because of the impact it will have on Russia's economy and they did not look convinced in the slightest.

Coming back to this comment, Russia's economy is in an unusual spot right now.  This Youtube video has a good rundown of the issues, because there's a lot of strange contradictions.

 - Russia's economy in the short term is doing just fine.  The economy is totally dependent of fossil fuels and right now prices are through the roof.  Russia's oil is being sold at a discount (~15%) because Russian oil is the least desirable oil around due to politics.  But if Russian oil is discounted 15% but oil prices increase 60%, that's still a big win.  Russia's oil and gas production is actually falling a little due to the sanctions (lack of investment, parts and skilled labor) but this is not enough to make a material impact on the picture.  Overall Russia is selling less oil and less gas but still making more money than ever.  High fuel prices are a really, really good thing for Russia.

 - Russia's trade imbalance is ridiculous.  The sanctions mean that Russia cannot import lots of things they need, like electronics, software, and spare parts.  Russia wants to import things like microchips and cell phones through allies like China and India.  But while those countries are willing to use Russia oil (Russia is a huge player), they are not really willing to do so for Russian purchases of electronics because Russia is just a tiny market compared to the US and EU.  So Russia is exporting a ton of fossil fuels and importing virtually nothing.  This trade imbalance is propping up the ruble. 

 - However, without those imports, Russia's non-fossil fuel economy is dying.  It is already in decline and that will continue/accelerate the longer sanctions remain in place.  Russia was already super reliant on resource extraction in its economy, and that is only getting worse.  In addition, if the sanctions are still in place in 12-18 months, that will start to really hinder Russia's fossil fuel economy as well.  Russia's moment of maximum leverage is probably this winter.  Russia's control of the European gas market will give them a very dangerous (non-nuclear) method of escalation against any European assistance to Ukraine. 

 - Fossil fuel production is ramping up.  He mentioned some short term problems with ramping up production in Nigeria, Saudi Arabia and the US, but those will get cleared up in months.  Oil producers worldwide want a piece of these crazy profits.  Given that Russian oil is the least desirable oil commodity right now, and Russia's ability to extract it cheaply declines the longer sanctions last (no new exploration and harder to maintain existing production), it is quite likely that the Russian oil/gas windfall will decline sharply over the next year.  If this war is still going on a year from now (a big IF I know) then the Russian economy is likely to be in a much weaker position and have difficulty sustaining the war.  The Russians know this, and will probably try to negotiate some sort of ceasefire/peace before that happens. 

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2 hours ago, Wilbur said:

Closing down a bunch of their own nuclear power plants didn't help them out much, either.

Actually meh...nuclear power plants contributed 6% of the electricial energy. That's not the issue. The issue is heating, which you traditionally don't do with nuclear power. Of course, you are welcome to our radioactive waste, for which we haven't found a place yet.

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In other random news: my (current) team is front and center in making sure that this works. I'm a bit bummed I won't get to work on it because I'm leaving, but it's neat that we're making something of a small difference, hopefully. 

Ukrainian Xbox players are getting a storefront and native accounts | GamesRadar+

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Bafflement over this drone strike on a Russian oil refinery north of Rostov.

This is some 160 km from the nearest Ukrainian front line, which would seem to rule out direct control from Ukrainian territory. It's possible Ukrainian special forces have infiltrated Russian territory with drones (which would be tough but not undoable), or even Russian saboteurs themselves carried out the attack.

Some suggestion that it's a false flag, but again blowing up your own oil refinery to raise public anger feels unnecessary, as an oil refinery close to the Ukrainian border could be argued to be a military target.

 

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Does anyone recognize model of the drone? It does not look like loitering munition (too slow, bayraktar - like tail). Bayraktar - kamikaze?

Edited by broken one
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42 minutes ago, broken one said:

Does anyone recognize model of the drone? It does not look like loitering munition (too slow, bayraktar - like tail). Bayraktar - kamikaze?

They seem to think it's too small to be a Bayraktar but too big to be one of the US-donated models. It might by a commercial drone adjusted in the field.

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17 hours ago, kiko said:

Actually meh...nuclear power plants contributed 6% of the electricial energy. That's not the issue. The issue is heating, which you traditionally don't do with nuclear power. Of course, you are welcome to our radioactive waste, for which we haven't found a place yet.

They operators saved a lot of money by investing as little as possible and the reactors were at their end of lifetime because of that anyway. They would have refused to do that without state support anyway I suspect. Profit from nuclear reactors belongs to the operators while society as a whole can deal with the costs.

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The situation around Seiverodonetsk is indeed deteriorating.  Ukraine is still holding Lysychansk, and a small portion of Seiverodonetsk, but to pocket is getting narrower.  To the south of those two is Zolote, and that is now nearly surrounded.  If the Ukrainians have to abandon Zolote, then the pocket gets much tighter and resupply that much more difficult.  At some point you have to think that the Ukrainians will bring their troops out rather than risk getting completely cut off.  They've held strong thus far, but it feels like only a matter of time. 

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1 hour ago, Maithanet said:

The situation around Seiverodonetsk is indeed deteriorating.  Ukraine is still holding Lysychansk, and a small portion of Seiverodonetsk, but to pocket is getting narrower.  To the south of those two is Zolote, and that is now nearly surrounded.  If the Ukrainians have to abandon Zolote, then the pocket gets much tighter and resupply that much more difficult.  At some point you have to think that the Ukrainians will bring their troops out rather than risk getting completely cut off.  They've held strong thus far, but it feels like only a matter of time. 

I think as we said previously, one problem is that once you clear the eastern Donbas, there's not much cover to the west. Ukraine might see giving up the pocket as effectively ceding the entirety of Ukraine east of the Dnieper to Russia, possibly including Kharkiv, although they can establish defences along the Donets instead, but defending from the south is tougher.

You also have the issue where Ukraine is probably seeing the same manpower analysis as everyone else, and if they are grinding Russian and allied troops to death on that front, they want to keep doing that to exhaust the deployed Russian manpower. But of course they are also exhausting their own troops to do that.

I do think their original plan was to fight the Russians for every inch in Severodonetsk, pull back to Lysychansk and force them to do the same thing there before pulling out, but the Russians have been able to penetrate behind their lines. Not much but they have managed to secure an advance around Zolote. If Zolote falls, then they probably would need to pull back.

A big problem there is that ceding the twin city pocket allows the Russians to drastically shorten their lines, allowing more troops to go on the offensive towards Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. The Ukrainians can make a fight for both those cities but if they go, it's theoretically open season for the Russians all the way to Dnipro.

The Ukrainians are really not taking advantage of how overstretched the Russians are on other fronts, but whether that's through supply problems or lack of heavy equipment is unclear. Successes in Kharkiv and Kherson are continuing, but very slowly.

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8 minutes ago, Werthead said:

A big problem there is that ceding the twin city pocket allows the Russians to drastically shorten their lines, allowing more troops to go on the offensive towards Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. The Ukrainians can make a fight for both those cities but if they go, it's theoretically open season for the Russians all the way to Dnipro.

The supply lines to Slovyansk and Kramatorsk will be longer and more challenging than around Popasna/Lyman.  Taking either or both of those will be extremely difficult. 

Quote

The Ukrainians are really not taking advantage of how overstretched the Russians are on other fronts, but whether that's through supply problems or lack of heavy equipment is unclear. Successes in Kharkiv and Kherson are continuing, but very slowly.

Agreed.  I had really hoped that the Ukrainians would at this point have a mobile reserve force of 10k or so troops that they are deploying to quickly overwhelm local Russian forces and get offensives started.  But that has not happened.  I think that the bottleneck remains the ability to train and equip the territorial forces into a more capable fighting force, but it's unfortunate that they aren't ready 4 months into the war. 

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6 minutes ago, Maithanet said:

Agreed.  I had really hoped that the Ukrainians would at this point have a mobile reserve force of 10k or so troops that they are deploying to quickly overwhelm local Russian forces and get offensives started.  But that has not happened.  I think that the bottleneck remains the ability to train and equip the territorial forces into a more capable fighting force, but it's unfortunate that they aren't ready 4 months into the war. 

Several countries are training Ukrainian territorial forces to NATO standards in their own countries away from the front lines, I believe in Poland and now the UK as well. That will be helpful but the turnaround will not be fast, and troops trained in the UK I assume may not be deployed in Ukraine until near the end of this year.

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A Ukrainian contact has been filling us in on their observations of the Russian economic front. Apparently Russia's metallurgy sector, headed up by several very rich oligarchs, has started asking for bail-outs from the Russian central bank because their metal prices have gone above market value, ironically due to the increased performance of the ruble. Apparently the central bank is still working out if they can do that. If they can't, the sector might start contracting and possibly quite fast.

The Russian petrol byproducts sector is also in danger of going into meltdown because their storage tanks are completely maxed out (because Europe isn't buying their products any more and China doesn't need the excess production) and they literally can't store more. Ironically this may start causing fuel shortages in Russia in the coming months.

There's also a huge amount of under-reported activity going on around Kherson and Iziuim. Not just regular Ukrainian military pushes but also partisan activity behind the lines and Ukrainian special forces slipping through the lines to hit targets. This is diverting some - but clearly not enough - attention away from the Donbas.

The situation around Kharkiv has gotten mixed-up, with Russia regaining some ground to the north of the city but Ukrainian gains to the east holding.

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