We’ll start with this image created and then tweeted out by Timothy Ferris:
— Timothy Ferris (@irishson19161) March 5, 2022
Shortly after I put up last night’s post, which was shortly after dawn broke yesterday in Ukraine, the Russians ramped up their bombardment of Ukrainian cities and towns. I expect the same will happen again today. So as I write this post, I expect I’ll start seeing tweets about air raid alerts being sounded around Ukraine. Like this one!
⚡️Air raid alert in Poltava.
Residents should go to the nearest shelter.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 6, 2022
As I predicted last night, the agreed to ceasefires to establish temporary humanitarian corridors to evacuate several Ukrainian cities were a complete ruse. Shortly after Ukrainians in Mariupol and Volnovakha began to assemble at the evacuation stepping off points the Russians resumed shelling the two cities.
⚡️Russia announces resuming fighting in Mariupol and Volnovakha.
Earlier today temporary ceasefire was supposed to take place to create humanitarian corridors and allow civilians to leave Mariupol and Volnovakha, but Russian troops’ shelling halted the evacuation.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 5, 2022
Reports of Russian ceasefire violations in Mariupol and Volnovakha.
Civilian evacuation suspended in Mariupol.
— Illia Ponomarenko ?? (@IAPonomarenko) March 5, 2022
Dire conditions in Mariupol, @RSF_EECA says. Still no power, water, heating and mobile connection. Pharmacies out of medicine. Collecting snow for drinking water. No clear evacuation routes. https://t.co/sMNREIk97e
— Christopher Miller (@ChristopherJM) March 5, 2022
⚡️Russian troops are headed towards the Kaniv Hydroelectric Power Plant, about 100 kilometers south of Kyiv, the General staff of Ukraine’s Armed Forces reported on March 5.
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 6, 2022
What we’ve been seeing for the past several days, first with the bombardments and now with the attacks on declared humanitarian corridors is the exact same tactics that Russia used in Syria. This has a lot of people concerned for what Putin’s intentions really are despite whatever it is he’s saying. As I’ve written several times, I’ve think Putin is operating from a concept that either he gets Ukraine or no one gets Ukraine and, as a result, if he can’t take it and hold it, he’ll just raze it to the ground. Apparently, I’m not the only one with this concern.
I can't believe I'm writing this about Kyiv, but looks very likely that Putin is about to do the Aleppo strategy: indiscriminate bombing, huge humanitarian toll, pure brutality. Those who thought that Kyiv, the heart of ancient Rus, was sacred, it's not. Nothing is sacred.
— Dr Alina Polyakova (@apolyakova) March 4, 2022
And I read the following threat from Putin differently than Alperovitch. Not as a threat of annexation, but of complete extermination of Ukraine. As in nothing left:
A particular moment in the history of the state system: a leading member of the United Nations (P5) is threatening another member of the United Nations with extinction. https://t.co/qTgKSFGlar
— Ulrich Speck (@ulrichspeck) March 5, 2022
The citizens of Kherson are resisting despite the negotiated occupation of their city.
Thousands Of People In Kherson, Ukraine, Are Protesting Russia’s Occupation Of Their City
— Mark Schoofs (@SchoofsFeed) March 5, 2022
The good citizens of Melitopol are also not just going along to get along.
— ??Paula Chertok??? (@PaulaChertok) March 6, 2022
And Zaporizhzhia too:
— Oleksandra Matviichuk (@avalaina) March 5, 2022
In Kyiv, begun the gherkin war, has!
— Liubov Tsybulska (@TsybulskaLiubov) March 5, 2022
TaMara’s reply when I texted this to her (copy and paste):
Don’t mess with a woman armed with gherkins
You can’t really argue with that!
Time to check on those fighter jets! They’re still in their NATO member states. The bottom line on this is that Poland, at least, is willing to provide their MiGs to Ukraine and receive new US fighters as the replacements. However, the reporting makes it clear that the problems include that not all of the Polish MiGs are flight ready. The Poles are also used to flying them and will need time to get fully up to speed on the new American fighters, which are most likely F-16s. The Poles are also concerned about how to get the MiGs into Ukraine without crossing one of Putin’s red lines and thereby allowing Putin to assert that NATO has entered the war on Ukraine’s side and causing an escalation. Finally, the US Congress will have to formally approve the sale of the new fighters to Poland. The other two potential NATO MiG donors – Estonia and Bulgaria – have the same issues and concerns. So even if you can get Poland and one or more of these allies on board and everything else lined up logistically, we still have to get Congress to sign off. And we all know what that means…
Since I know you’re tracking it, we only have 5 more shopping days till the next government shutdown! And, of course, the usual suspects are threatening to take the omnibus appropriations bill and a supplemental spending package to support Ukraine hostage:
Senate Republicans have issued a series of early threats against a still-forming deal to fund the federal government, signaling that they could delay the package — which may include emergency aid to Ukraine — over concerns about excessive spending and vaccine mandates.
The early warnings, delivered in two letters to Senate Majority Leader Charles E. Schumer (D-N.Y.), could slow lawmakers’ time-sensitive work as Russia’s incursion into Ukraine is intensifying — all while Washington faces a March 11 deadline to fund federal agencies and avoid a government shutdown.
In the first letter, sent Thursday, eight GOP lawmakers complained that “families are feeling the pressure of skyrocketing prices,” which they blamed on “reckless government spending.” In response, they said they “cannot allow another massive spending package to be rushed through Congress without proper consideration and scrutiny.”
Signing the missive were Republican Sens. Rick Scott (Fla.), Cynthia M. Lummis (Wyo.), Ted Cruz (Tex.), Roger Marshall (Kansas), Marsha Blackburn (Tenn.), Mike Braun (Ind.), Ron Johnson (Wis.) and Mike Lee (Utah). Some of the members have publicly called for aid to Ukraine, with Scott in particular arguing that it should be divorced from a government funding measure.
In the second note, sent Friday, 10 Republicans revived their campaign against federal vaccine and testing requirements. Even as public health officials broadly maintain that the policies help curtail the spread of the coronavirus, the GOP lawmakers pledged they would “stand against these mandates until they are discontinued in ambition, design and practice.”
The second missive was signed by some of the same Republicans, plus Sens. Rand Paul (Ky.) and Steve Daines (Mont.).
Those senators could fuck up an orgy in a whore house! As my late father would have said.
Let’s finish up tonight with a bit of analysis on Putin closing off Russia’s information system. I know AL did a post on this last night, but I have a bit of a different take on it than some. Putin has spent the better part of twenty years destroying and distorting factual reality in Russia (also the US, the UK, and Europe). His informational objective was to ensure that nothing could be true, so anything and everything could be possible. This has sometimes worked a little too well. Putin tried to run his normal informational warfare plan to denigrate the Pfizer and Moderna vaccines, but what he seems to have managed to accomplish was to just make Russian’s completely skeptical of COVID vaccines, especially the Russian made Sputnik vaccine. Ooopsie!
In this case regarding his war for Ukraine, shutting off Russia’s information ecosystem from the outside world allows Putin to control the narrative. Specifically, to have a far greater likelihood of ensuring that his preferred narrative of what is happening in Ukraine – the Ukrainians are enslaved by NAZIs, the Ukrainians have been committing genocidal attacks on Russians speakers in eastern Ukraine that Russia has been trying to protect, and that the Ukrainian leadership is being used as a pawn of the US, the EU, and NATO to wage war on Russia, so Putin was left with no choice but to conduct a security operation in Ukraine to de-NAZIfy it, protect Russian speakers/ethnic Russians, and thwart the US’s, the EU’s, and NATO’s plans to destroy Russia – becomes the unchallenged narrative in Russia.
I’ve now seen dozens of social media posts like this one:
“I woke up from a call from a friend. He told me Russia was bombing Kyiv,” says Artem Basistiy, a 29-year-old from Crimea, who had lived in Kyiv for 4 years.
He called his mom in occupied Crimea to tell her what happened, but she didn’t believe him.https://t.co/xEf6cbV38D
— The Kyiv Independent (@KyivIndependent) March 5, 2022
“On TV they say, we are liberating Kiev!” – mom of captured RU soldier doesn’t believe him, when he says Russians are attacking cities & bomb civilians. “Do smth, mom!Ask to stop the war!” – “What can I do? Militaries are deciding”. Putin made moms doubt their children
— Maria Zolkina (@Mariia_Zolkina) March 5, 2022
When I heard the first explosions, I ran out of the house to get my dogs from their enclosures outside. People were panicking, abandoning their cars. I was so scared,” she says.
The 25-year-old has been speaking regularly to her mother, who lives in Moscow. But in these conversations, and even after sending videos from her heavily bombarded hometown, Oleksandra is unable to convince her mother about the danger she is in.
I didn’t want to scare my parents, but I started telling them directly that civilians and children are dying,” she says.
“But even though they worry about me, they still say it probably happens only by accident, that the Russian army would never target civilians. That it’s Ukrainians who’re killing their own people.”
It’s common for Ukrainians to have family across the border in Russia. But for some, like Oleksandra, their Russian relatives have a contrasting understanding of the conflict. She believes it’s down to the stories they are told by the tightly-controlled Russian media.
Oleksandra says her mother just repeats the narratives of what she hears on Russian state TV channels.
It really scared me when my mum exactly quoted Russian TV. They are just brainwashing people. And people trust them,” says Oleksandra.
“My parents understand that some military action is happening here. But they say: ‘Russians came to liberate you. They won’t ruin anything, they won’t touch you. They’re only targeting military bases’.”
Much more at the link including an absolutely adorable picture of one of Olexasandra’s dogs wearing a helmet!
Where I think this is going is that by closing off Russia’s information ecosystem, Putin is trying to create the opening to be able to blame the cratering Russian economy solely on the US, the EU, NATO, and other allied and partner countries. If he can propagandize the majority of the Russian citizenry into believing that he’s only authorized a limited special operation in Ukraine to de-NAZIfy it and to protect ethnic Russian speakers and that the US, the EU, NATO, and other allied and partnered countries are waging economic warfare on Russia, he stands a chance of surviving the fallout. Especially as long as the US and the EU and other states do not extend the economic measures to include the Russian energy sector. As long as that is up and running, he’s got $750 million a day coming in. Between $200 million and $600 million of it just in natural gas for Europe per day:
Below, Russia's 2021 income from its EU export of gas not listing its income from our import of Russian oil. If we would not buy this Russian pipeline gas & oil, Moscow couldn't easily divert the enormous volumes to other markets. It lacks an alternative transport infrastructure. pic.twitter.com/6zwGhJTYnT
— Andreas Umland (@UmlandAndreas) March 5, 2022
The energy sector revenue will provide Putin economic space to continue fighting to take or destroy Ukraine. He’s closed the Russian informational ecosystems to try to create space to divert what will surely be the anger of the Russian citizenry at economic hardship in order to allow him to stay in office and alive and continue to prosecute his war. What remains to be seen is whether or not it will work.
I’ll leave it there.