Ukrainians value freedom over order. Russians value order over everything. These two people cannot live together. (Paraphrase of a comment by a Unkainian novelist).
THURSDAY 25 AUGUST 2022
UKRAINE, THE LATEST podcast of The Telegraph
- Day 183 of the War on Ukraine
- Boris Johnson visited Ukraine today. This will probably be his last visit as Prime Minister. He urged the British to ensure the hardships economically of the war while the Ukrainians endure the war in blood.
- Johnson understands the importance of the war against Ukraine perhaps more than other European leaders. “We must keep going.”
- This comes when right-wing leaders in Italy, for example, are questioning the sanctions against Russia.
- This fight is about the kind of world we want to live in.
- Matteo Salvini, an Italian politician is advising a reconsideration of sanctions against Russia. He is famously pro-Kremlin. He has been photographed wearing a Putin tee shirt in Moscow. Opposition parties are using this narrative to attack the parties in power. This will continue to build as the winder comes and the costs of fuel will rise even more. This will be a key battlefield.
- Italy is now due to go to the polls September 25. Salvini is part of a right-wing coalition that includes Silvio Berlusconi, another Russia supporter.
- Macron has made statements that we must endure the cut backs in order to help Ukraine win this war.
- The reception of Salvini’s statements is not overwhelmingly supportive.
- Hungry is also complaining about sanctions. Bulgaria is trying to reestablish gas from Russia.
- Putin will be waiting for this break in the EU support for Ukraine due to increased energy prices.
- Hungry is one of Europe’s poorest countries. Orban is arguing that Europe is trying to make Hungarians poor.
- Future politicians in Italy, Germany and other countries may make gains by opposing support for Ukraine.
- Greece has an election coming up soon. Inflation is hitting the Greek population.
- Younger people have never lived through real economic disruption. It remains to be seen how they react. Politicians have repeatedly stress to them why this struggle is important.
- Blocs forming in the UN, emerging economies tending to abstain from opposition to Russia. India, however, voted against Russia in the UN on a procedural vote. If this suggests a trend, a lot of work is being done behind the scenes. This might be an encouraging shift.
- Turkey has an interesting role here in between the east and west. Turkey condemned the annexation of Crimea. They may be hardening in a pro-Ukrainian stance.
- Satellite imagery shows military equipment near the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant.
- ISW Institute for Studying War – Follow on Twitter if you are a close watcher.
- Russia has lost land equivalent to Denmark since the beginning of the war. Analysis of Russian claim that they are slowing down their advance to limit civilian deaths. But, it is likely an attempt to explain away their failings.
- Dugina killing. It is unlikely that Ukraine did this. It risks escalating the war. The logistics are difficult. It is unlikely to be worth it. It is more likely that the dispute is internal. FSB targeting is a possibility. The more analysis, the less likely it seems that Ukraine is responsible.
- Sergei Shoigu now claims that they are concerned with civilian deaths? There has also been no convincing explanation of the attacks in Crimea, or the Dugina attack.
- They do not have a comprehensive plan on the battle field. They have had eight years to plan this and this is the best they can do?
- The war has triggered impacts on the environment which will produce problems. This may provoke an environmental disaster. Problems: deforestation and habitat destruction, excavations affecting soil, water availability. This will have a very big impact. The damage is not easily rectified.
- Boris Johnson was enormously helpful to Ukraine, especially at the beginning of the war when the UK and the USA were trying to unite NATO
WEDNESDAY 17 AUGUST 2022
UKRAINE, THE LATEST Podcast, The Telegraph
- Day 175
- There have been strikes in Odesa.
- A grain ship left for Africa.
- The Ukrainian strategy is creating chaos in the Russian forces. The Crimean bridges to the east of Crimea, linking Crimea to Russia are illegal structures according to the Ukrainians. They will probably come under attack.
- There is no prospect of meaningful negotiations with Russia until they have experienced a significant military defeat.
- There have been some explosions in Melitopol, occupied Ukraine.
- The Russians are saying they have captured “terrorist cells,” something they use frequently when things aren’t going well.
- People in the south are preparing for an energy blockade in the near future.
- The operator of the nuclear power plant has been subjected to a massive cyber attack. There is shelling in the area which is extremely dangerous.
- Russian Arms Fair (Moscow)
- Russia is trying to cut deals (Article in Forbes) for arms sales.
- Some of the arms have been built in China and are being resold by the Russians. This is a pattern whereby Russians are buying cheap Chinese tech and reselling them at incredibly increased prices.
- India heavily invests in Russian armaments. A lot of this is not working as advertised. Radios that can be easily jammed, for example. Russian products have been shown to be less than desirable.
- Jewish Exodus from Russia
- 20,000 Jews are estimated to have left Russia since the war started. Jewish people who have left are not inclined to speak about it. There is pressure on the Jewish community to support the war.
- Growing repression of anyone who does not tow the line.
- A more totalitarian Russian state may spell great difficulties.
- The Jewish Agency works on immigration issues and repatriation to Israel. An order was given to shut down the organization. Normally quite friendly, Israel is furious at the shutdown of the organization.
- Whenever there is serious internal strife, the Jewism community suffers greatly. There have been pogroms. They are targeted as “enemies within.” There may be growing fears that a fascist state will not be a good thing for the Jewish community. There is a deep historical understanding of this problem. A more practical reason may be that if the war escalates, they may not be able to leave.
- Cyber War
- Earlier this week it was thought that the cyber war had settled down. Ukrainians, however, are saying that Russia is committing cyber “war crimes.” If civilians are targeted it is defined as a war crime.
THE HELL THAT IS THE UNITED STATES
- Hageman, who used to be a close ally of Liz Cheney, beat her in the Wyoming primary. Hageman is a lawyer who spent her career fighting environmental rules.
WEDNESDAY 10 AUGUST 2022
UKRAINE UPDATE: UKRAINE: THE LATEST Podcast , The Telegrah
“Nobody’s going to break us. We are strong. We are Ukrainians.”
- 168 day.
- Latest News
- There was an attack in Crimea yesterday. This was away from the front line. This was at a military air base. There were Russian tourists at the beach and they posted photographs of the blast.
- Much of the coverage has been kept from occupied regions of Ukraine.
- The Russians claimed that it was an ammunition fire. This does happens because the Russians don’t take care of their munitions. There is a small chance that it was just a fire. We don’t think that was what happened.
- We think it was a Ukrainian attack. But, we don’t think they have the munitions to reach such a distance. The US has publicly stated that they have not supplied weapons that can reach this far. It is thought that it some kind of modified armament. Perhaps it is a new ballistic missile we have not seen before. There is also speculation that it is partisan activity.
- This is a very long range strike. It may well influence the fight for the Donbas.
- Medvedev has said that any strikes on Russian soil would be “judgement day.”
- The first time the war has been brought to Crimea. Raises questions of how long Putin can keep saying that this is a special operation and not a war.
- Zelensky has said that the war would not be over until Ukraine recaptured Crimea. It would be a huge undertaking. You have to go over a bridge to get there. Kirtz bridge?
- Russia is struggling to find troops. This ups the stakes.
- If Crimea is non-negotiable, i.e., if the Russians would mobilize their entire forces. We need to consider the potential for nuclear strikes. Is the international community prepared for a “small scale” nuclear strike? Would all Russian oil and gas be cut off? Would China be pressured to turn off contact?
- This is not being discussed enough. It needs to be made clear to Russia what would happen. We need to take the degree Russia considers Crimea Russian theirs, seriously. Unfortunately, Crimea needs to be seen differently.
- In the Washington Post, there was a comment made by an Ukrainian official that the attack on Crimea was by them but not using a US supplied weapon.
- Ukrainians mined old railroad tracks because they knew that the Russians had old maps. The Russians used the rails and were blown up.
- Russian troops were moved to the South and suddenly their rear was attacked, the military base that was supposed to protect them in their offensive.
- The Russians fight an old-school war. Smash up the place with artillery and then move in the soldiers. The Ukrainians are doing a good job outsmarting them.
- Takes away some of the air power that could be used in the Kherson region. Think it is part of the wider plan.
- Ukraine has been good at pushing the edges in terms of weaponry that will be supplied, pushing for more and more powerful weapons.
- We are expecting a statement from the Russians in terms of a splashy attack.
- There is going to be immense international pressure for there to be a negotiated settlement in the Fall because of the impact of gas and oil supplies. Ukraine needs to show now what they are capable of. Ukraine still has the capability of making this kind of strike.
- Ukrainians know that any negotiated settlement with the Russians won’t be worth the paper it is written on. This is true unless there are specific safeguards from the international community.
- Any territory held will be used as a launching pad for future Russian attacks.
- This attack on Crimea is an important morale booster for Ukraine.
- Amnesty International Report
- Some of the employees have resigned over the report. The report is absurd. They see all war as evil and look at everything through that lens. It is an idealistic view and one that has nothing to do with reality.
- It is not a feasible moral position.
- The co-founder of Amnesty International Sweden has resigned.
- Why are we not seeing a lot of UN intervention in this war? The UN sees themselves as brokering a peace and trying to see that things don’t escalate. The work they do they have to do behind the scenes. That’s what they would say.
- The UN’s purpose is to provide a table for negotiations.
- Some of their interventions have been horrible. What is the point of this institution if Russia is on the Security Council with a veto?
MONDAY 5 AUGUST 2022
Ukraine: The Latest, Podcast The Telegraph
- Visits to Taiwan and Ukraine.
- Strategic ambiguity is practiced by states. A common terminology is used, but radically different meanings are understood. Both can say we agree on the “One China” policy and have different definitions of that.
- Taiwan was drawn into the American umbrella due to the Korean war. The leader of North Korea got permission from Stalin was gotten and approval of China for an invasion of South Korea by the North. The Americans were trying to pursue this strategic ambiguity with regard to South Korea. The Sec. Of State made a speech noting countries that were in the American defensive realm. He left out South Korea.
- The Americans were looking to withdraw their troops from South Korea. Truman did withdraw troops despite the warnings from the CIA that to do so would probably result in an invasion.
- American strategic deterrence failed.
- After that there was a hardening in the American strategic approach. Taiwan was drawn into the sphere.
- Since then, there was knowledge that the Americans would intervene should there by interference in Taiwan.
- Biden has said on multiple occasions say that the U.S. could come to the defense of Taiwan.
- The US has been arming Taiwan. There are concerns that Taiwan relies too much on the U.S. and does not build its own defenses sufficiently.
- When you let the strength of your deterrence wilt, when you let it be believed that your support for an ally might not be strong, you see others intervene.
- It’s much cheaper to deter China from invading Taiwan than to deal with it after they do.
- There was a lot of criticism of Biden when he made clear lines for the Kremlin on what they would and wouldn’t do. The example is announcing that they wouldn’t provide a “no-fly zone.”
- There is a danger in being unclear about your intentions. There is a good argument that had the Americans been stronger about stating their intentions about defending Ukraine, the invasion might not have happened.
- Truman made it clear in the Korean war that the US was not going to use nuclear weapons. That clarity in intention may have greatly shaped the tone of the cold war and the reluctance of other countries to use nuclear weapons.
- The Republican Party in the US
- In the past the Republican party was squarely supportive of NATO. Then, there was Trump. There was talk about ditching NATO
- Hawley voted against allowing Sweden and Finland into NATO. He was criticized by other Republicans like Ted Cruz.
- Ukraine has revitalized NATO.
- Pompeo want to Taiwan with Pelosi. We may have relative consensus on foreign policy. The problem is what happens if Trump runs again.
- In Europe
- Le Pen has been saying that sanctions were good for Russia and bad for Europe.
- Turkey has always straddled east and west. Recently they have brokered the deal about grain. Some have seen this as a betrayal.
- Turkey is using this to gain influence. A few years there was an attempted coup. It has become more Islamist and more autocratic. In some ways this undermines the NATO project.
- NATO is in the position of criticizing other countries for anti-democratic tendencies and then Turkey is a NATO member.
- Turkey could have used the situation to lurch more toward the east. Probably for self-interest it sees that Russia will come out of this situation badly.
- Erdogan is facing elections soon. He will have to fight to have the political control he has. But Turkey is in such a strategic position, especially in the Black Sea.
- (Book: How to Hide an Empire)
- The Democrats are likely to lose control in 2022. Biden will be in the position of having to issue Executive Orders to get anything done.
- The American public had lost its confidence in interventionism, and then the Ukraine war started.
- Russia has had staggering population loss. It is a society in decline.
- Peskov has said that Russia is haunted by two holes in its population, the second WW and the break up of the Soviet Union.
- The Kremlin in characterized by “severe paranoia.” Putin would like an authoritarian state, to observe every citizen, have every citizen be an informant.
- The USSR was not plugged into the world economy. Russia is a country characterized by brain drain, reliant on oil and gas to survive economically.
- When you have a brain drain, there is a culture of resentment. Those left behind become resentful of those who have gone to the West. That decline makes you deeply pessimistic. This makes you vulnerable to the strong man appeal.
- A great many Ukrainians have been deported to Russia.
- Much of the apparatus for implementing a more suppressive state has been put in place since the invasion of Ukraine. The censorship of the press, the control of knowledge is essential. A lot of this has been put in place comprehensively since the invasion.
2 AUGUST 2022
UKRAINE: THE LATEST Podcast from The Telegraph
“Nobody is going to break us. We are strong. We are Ukrainians.”
It was so loud and I found my granny in the bathroom. The cat was so scared. I just found the granny and the cat in the bathroom. Paraphrased from an interview with a young woman in Ukraine.
- Day 159
- Last week on Thursday there was an attack in Donbas, in occupied territories. They were holding 50 prisoners of war some of them from the Mariupol plant. Fifty prisoners of war were killed. This is against the Geneva Convention.
- They should have been removed from the combat zone. (Note: Other reports said that the evidence was that the men were moved specifically to this warehouse that was exploded).
- Russians are blaming the US supplied HIMARS for the attack.
- This was a known holding place for prisoners of war. There is no reason the Ukrainians would have attacked. It was a precise strike.
- HIMARs would have destroyed the entire place. Part of the building is still in tact. The suggestion is that it was a Russian thermobaric weapon, which causes widespread fire.
- If these men were from the Avostol plant, and they went home, they would have been celebrated as heroes. The Russians couldn’t handle the propaganda victory, is the supposition. (Note: Other reports have noted that if these men were receiving inhumane treatment, this eliminated the evidence of that treatment. It also disposed of the problem of dealing with fifty captured men.)
- In a second attack, there was footage of a castration of a Ukrainian prisoner of war with a box cutting knife. It went out on a Russian TV channel.
- There are war crimes all along the chain of command.
- The first ship left with grain from Ukraine, from the port of Odesa. Russia was receiving pressure to help alleviate some of the world food shortage.
- Sixteen ships are ready to go.
- The plan is for these ships to form caravans and to leave together.
- The Russians were claiming a drone attack in Crimea.
- What we should expect is that this will continue and then there will be some “mistake” or “accident” and Russia will blame Ukraine for mining the waters.
- Ukrainian grain tycoon killed with his wife in shelling.
- Border problems with Kosovo.
- Arms depot going up in flames in Bulgaria. Bulgaria expelled a Russian diplomat.
- Russia is trying to hit back. Things aren’t going their way with the grain, they have been forced to allow the grain to go through and they are going to a different place to attack.
- In the Donbas field, things have moved little in the past few weeks.
- Meanwhile in the Kherson region, Ukrainian forces are moving back. This is not a large offensive, but it is a counterattack.
- Russia wants to take the South so that Ukraine cannot be a successful state.
- The Ukrainians may be building up in the South for an offensive, or maybe trying to make Russians wear themselves out moving troops back and forth between the east and the south.
- The impact of the Russian invasion is also on Africa and the Middle East. This first shipment is going to Lebanon. Lebanon is in a financial crisis. Inflation in the UK is 9%, in Lebanon it’s over 200%. Prices have tripled in a year.
- The grain market is also being affected by drought. Wheat yields will go down in countries like France.
- It’s so crucially important to keep this grain corridor from Ukraine going.
- If a ship is lost it will affect the willingness of insurance companies to give insurance.
- Russian Economy
- The situation is worse than the Kremlin is admitting.
- (Note: Foreign Affairs article about the effectiveness of sanctions.)
- Growth and inflation are bad. The narrative has developed that Russia is winning the financial conflict. People have been making this argument that the Russian economy is resilient. The strength of the ruble is noted. But, if you can’t spend that ruble, it’s not much of an indicator. Imports have dropped in Russia.
- The Kremlin is reducing the amount of financial information they are releasing. Yale study indicates that the economy has been disastrously affected.
- 1,000 western companies have left, it is estimated.
- The Kremlin has made the economy look better than it is.
- Undercover market for Russian oil. Ships offloading oil in the middle of the ocean (dangerous) to get cut level Russian oil.
- Chinese companies are trying to get their hands on this oil. Chinese has bought sanctioned oil before. Iranian oil. Big Chinese companies are acting with the implicit approval of Beijing.
- Ukrainian Economy
- Ukraine is going to have to go the IMF for funds. It is surprising that this bail out has not been already approved.
- This bail out will keep them from having to default on their debts.
- Final thoughts:
- Russia is unlikely to allow the grain corridor to operate for long.
SATURDAY 30 JULY 2022
The Russian government is planning to hold “referendums” in the occupied regions of Ukraine as early as September. They have already issued passports (newborns are registered as Russian citizens), replaced the currency with the ruble, put internet through Russian servers and arrested hundreds who have resisted.
The referendums, which will inevitably go in favor of Russia (in Crimea the pro-Russia vote was 97%), will give Putin a reason to declare the areas Russian territory, protected by Russian nuclear weapons, making any attempt to reclaim the territory more difficult.
It would be the largest territorial expansion by force since WWII.
They have “invited” residents to join election commissions. There is a new pro-Russian newspaper in the Zaporizhzhia region.
“Annexation by force will be a gross violation of the U.N.Charter, said John Kirby, “and we will not allow it go to unchallenged or unpunished.” Who knows what that means.
The school curriculum has been changed to a Russian one. Access to Russian television was considered so important that set-top boxes were distributed and even in some cases delivered to residents.
The mayor of Kherson spoke in a video interview about the situation. His assistant was abducted by pro-Russian occupying forces days later.
Open confrontation seen earlier in the war has largely ended in the occupied regions. Instead, people go out at night and paint Ukrainian flags on buildings.
Vessels are getting ready to transport the first grain shipments since the war began. If the grain sits long enough in the ports, it will spoil.
Russian Prison Camp Bombed
Ukraine called on the UN and the Red Cross to investigate an explosion that ripped apart a prison camp holding Ukrainian prisoners.
Many had fought to defend the Azovstal Iron and Steel Works. Earlier in the week, the Russian embassy has tweeted out that these men should be hanged and “humiliated.” They don’t have the problem now.
A recent graphic video showed a Russian soldier castrating a Ukrainian prisoner.
There were those who argued that the attack on the prison camp was intended to cover up the torture and mistreatment of the men held there.
Prisoners recently released from the camp described “hellish conditions.” There was almost no food and there were regular beatings.
Russia has cut off Latvia from its supply of Russian natural gas. Latvia had announced that it would pay for the gas in euros not as Moscow demanded, in Rubles.
Russia had already cut off gas supplies to Poland, Bulgaria, Finland and the Netherlands and Denmark.
WEDNESDAY 27 JULY 2022
UKRAINE, THE LATEST, Podcast by the Telegraph (7/27/22)
- Interviews with people on the ground in Ukraine.
- Kherson, the beginning of a counterattack is possible. One of the most important bridges has been closed for civilians. The Ukrainians don’t want to destroy the bridge since they may have to use it.
- A replacement has been named for the new Prosecutor General after the previous Prosecutor General was removed for not adequately removing Russian collaborators.
- Discussion with Telegraph Reporter Dom Nichols in Kyiv.
- People seem to have accepted the fact that the war is going to last over a year, according to polls.
- The number of people who have no employment has increased.
- After Bucha there has been a dramatic swing in the number of people who reject diplomacy to end the war. People fee that Russia wants to eliminate them as a country and they are not interested in negotiating.
- As Russia shells towns in Ukraine, there are graves in the yards.
THE POWER VERTICAL podcast, (7/20/22)
- “Ukraine Fatigue” is a serious problem.
- Approximately 2 million Ukrainians are in the U.S.
- Interview about maintaining support for Ukraine.
FRIDAY 29 JULY 2022
The DOJ has indicted a Russian national for operating three political groups in the US. I am certain that there are hundreds of Republican groups that could be similarly indicted or named as “unindicted co-conspirators.”
- Aleksandr Ionov was charged with a “years-long malign influence campaign targeting American politics.”
- He used American political groups in Florida, Georgia and California to push a pro-Russian agenda and sow discourd.
- He funded and directed these groups.
- The groups are not named. (Note: The group in Florida appears to be a black separatist movement.)
- These groups were, according to the head of the Justice Department’s national security division, turned into “instruments of the Russian government.”
- Individuals identified as only as unindicted co-conspirators included two Americans who ran for local office.
- Ionov wrote to handlers in Russia about managing the campaigns. He referred to one indieicual as a person “whom we supervise.”
- He paid for one group to conduct a four-city tour after they submitted a petition to the United Nations at his behest.
- The group is thought to be “Uhuru House” which is run by the African People’s Socialist Party.
- According to one FBI agent this was an attempt to “destabilize and undermine trust in American democracy.”
- Search warrants in the St. Petersburg area are being executed.
- Ionov provided the groups with money and advised them.
- After the invasion of Ukraine, Ionov told his FSB handlers that he had enlisted the Florida group to support Russia in the “information war unleashed.”
- The group directed by Ionov in California advocated for secession.
- He is accused of trying to persuade the leader of the group to physically enter the governor’s office in a protest.
- Ionov also went so far as to provid designs for signs used in a protest by the Atlanta group.
Justice Department Release
MONDAY 25 JULY 2022
UKRAINE: THE LATEST Podcast from the Telegraph
- The Ukrainians are looking for points of weakness in the Russian forces. We should see a love of movement in the South.
- The Ukrainians need to deny the bridges for heavy military equipment but leave them open to civilian traffic.
- The export of the grain out of Ukraine has to occur with Russian “permission.” The Russians will try to get concessions in exchange.
- Lavrov is saying that they are going to expand the war aims.
- There is a real problem with insuring these ships
- We should expect more attacks on Odesa.
- The big story is the effect of the HIMARS. The accuracy is very good. It has reduced the Russian artillery to a trickle. It has made a marked difference.
- Lavrov has said if the West continues to supply the HIMARS, they will expand the war.
- This is the sixth month of the war.
- Zelensky is saying that Ukrainians are advancing into Kherson.
- Zelensky has made some remarks about the air defense systems that are needed to counter the Russians. They need air defense weapons and have not received enough of them. The equipment has not arrived.
- Zelensky also announced that at the peak of the fighting the Ukrainians were losing 200 soldiers a day. This has decreased now.
- There are debates about what information to release about losses.
- A cease-fire with Russia that does not allow Ukraine to have back formerly taken territories by the Russians is unacceptable.
- The Russians are trying to reconnect with the international community and also benefit financially by the grain deal. It enables Russia to grandstand in Africa, presenting themselves as the savior of African lives.
- Diplomacy is a weapon for the Russians. It is something that will buy them time.
- Germany has turned off streetlights and is rationing energy. The EU is suggesting targets at decreasing the use of energy for all members regardless of their dependence on Russian oil and gas. France is against uniform targets in reduction.
- France and Germany are usually together on policy. This represents a break.