I want to start tonight by focusing on something we’ve spent a bit of time on, but not enough: humanitarian assistance.
International organizations have failed Ukraine. The system of humanitarian aid, which worked in other conflict zones, doesn't work here. Local volunteers are helping those in need, risking life and limb. This is a message I received today from @mercycorps person on the ground: pic.twitter.com/KzKHsMky8b
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) March 22, 2022
There are concerns about some areas that are affected by the fighting and highly reliant on aid, such as Kharkiv and Sumy. Many places don't have food for more than 3-4 days. There are fears that supply chains could be disrupted if cities are besieged or shelled, like Mariupol pic.twitter.com/YoYkYX29oF
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) March 22, 2022
In the comments last night, really every night, there are questions about whether the UN could do something more. Such as send in peacekeepers to establish humanitarian corridors and undertake humanitarian relief. The answer, whether I’m giving it or someone else, is always no. Peacekeeping missions are not undertaken in active combat zones. And, unfortunately, the UN General Assembly doesn’t have the power to establish a UN response or even establish a response for an international coalition to lead. Only the UN Security Council has that authority and, of course, Russia has a permanent seat on the Security Council, which means it has veto power, which it would most surely use if an international humanitarian coalition was proposed.
At the same time, as we’ve dealt with in parts of past updates dealing with Mariupol, the largest international humanitarian aid organizations are basically not operating right now in Ukraine. The International Committee of the Red Cross only has a presence in Mariupol because the people who work at its local office there are trapped with everyone else by the Russian siege. As we’ve discussed, those local ICRC officials are doing what they can, but they have no resources to work with.
Part of the problem here is that because Russia is violating the laws of war and pretty much every other Geneva Convention in undertaking their “special operation” in Ukraine, the international humanitarian aid community is rightly afraid to send its personnel into Ukraine to do their jobs. The Russians keep scarfing up Ukrainian paramedics, Ukrainians just trying to help out other Ukrainians, and reporters. When they’re not outright killing them. As a result Ukraine is being viewed as a completely non-permissive environment and the aid organizations are unwilling to assume risk and send their personnel into it.
And here too, we’re back to the same type of problem we’ve been facing all along. Because Putin’s behavior, because his basic operational protocols and rules of engagement are so outside the norm of what Russia agreed to is acceptable conduct in war and during wartime, he’s frozen the international humanitarian assistance community. Just as his ambiguity over the use of Russia’s nuclear weapons has frozen the US and our NATO and non-NATO allies into pursuing only non-kinetic responses for fear of escalation into a nuclear exchange if not an outright nuclear war.
Putin’s actions, and the actions of Russia’s military, are the clearest indication that what is actually being conducted in Ukraine is genocide. That the goal is to not deNAZIfy Ukraine, but to de-Ukraine Ukraine. To raze everything that can be razed to the ground to the ground. To pound whatever can be turned to dust to dust. We have reports that the Russians are scarfing up Ukrainian children and taking them back to Russia. The only humanitarian corridors out of threatened, besieged, and/or occupied cities the Russians won’t attack are the ones leading to areas controlled by Russia or to Russia itself.
A strategy to provide humanitarian assistance despite Russia’s actions in Ukraine needs to be developed and implemented as soon as possible.
More after the jump!
Based on reporting, the US is planning to send the Soviet military equipment we’ve captured over the years that would be useful to the Ukrainians.
The U.S. government is sending Soviet-era air defense systems in its possession to Ukraine, according to a report from The Wall Street Journal. These systems will reportedly come from stocks of foreign materiel that elements of the U.S. military and Intelligence Community have obtained in various ways over the years for intelligence analysis and training purposes. The possibility that these so-called foreign materiel exploitation, or FME, programs could offer a useful source of additional air defense capabilities that Ukraine badly needs is exactly what that The War Zone laid out just recently.
It’s not entirely clear from The Wall Street Journal‘s story, which was published earlier today, which entity or entities within the U.S. government is managing this effort. The story indicates that an arm of the U.S. military, broadly, is managing this military assistance project, but says that Pentagon declined to comment one way or the other.
The Journal‘s piece did say that the U.S. government has already shipped a number of systems to Ukraine that had been in storage at the U.S. Army’s Redstone Arsenal in Huntsville, Alabama.
While this is good news, I’m not sure of the strategic value of communicating it.
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s video appeal to the Russian people has been remarkably effective. The famed film star and former California governor posted it not only on Twitter, but also on Telegram, which is used almost exclusively by Russians. For days, Russian state media tried to ignore it altogether—but millions of views across multiple platforms forced them to address Schwarzenegger’s powerful message.
“That face is the cover page of American imperialism and colonialism,” TV host Vadim Gigin declared on state TV show Sunday Evening With Vladimir Solovievon, raging about Arnold Schwarzenegger and his video clip. “Not the caricature image of Uncle Sam, but this Schwarz, in a Hollywood production.”
Gigin seemed particularly peeved with the first comments Arnold made in his video. In an effort to dodge state media’s propensity to immediately dismiss any criticism as “Russophobia,” Arnold had opened his address with reminders of his fondness for the Russian people, with years of positive interactions long before Vladimir Putin started a full-fledged war against Ukraine.
“He, in California, will tell us, who live here… the truth?! That is their approach towards us,” Gigin fumed.
It’s not only state media pundits who are outraged with Arnold’s video.
Russian powerlifter champion Maryana Naumova, who has expressed heradmiration for the likes of notorious Syrian dictator Bashar al Assad, weighed in with her response to the message, which was published by the Russian tabloid Komsomolskaya Pravda on Monday. In her commentary, Naumova accused the American film star of “living in an alternative, imaginary reality.” Baselessly accusing the Ukrainian government of Nazism, she claimed: “The fact that Mr. Zelensky, as you say, is a Jew, did not help them. Nazism has no nationality, Nazism is not based on the word ‘German.’ And Russophobia is no better than anti-Semitism.”
Referring to Schwarzenegger’s famed feature films, Naumova proclaimed: “Do you remember how in the second part of the Terminator your hero goes back in time to prevent the creation of Skynet, which would bring the death of all mankind? Russia’s special military operation does not aim to destroy the Ukrainian people. It is aimed at the neo-Nazi Skynet, which over the years has completely subjugated Ukraine and was about to turn into an uncontrollable monster, dangerous for all of its neighbors, not only for us… Don’t side with Skynet, Terminator.”
Zakhar Prilepin, a famous Russian writer who boasted of “killing many” in the last war in Donbas, and who is wanted by Ukraine’s SBU security service on charges of “taking part in the activity of a terrorist organization,” also had harsh words for Arnold. Prilepin wrote on his Telegram channel: “In his video message, Schwarzenegger, who killed three million Russians in his films, told the Russian people how much he loves us and how wrong we are about Ukraine… This Austrian, the son of his father, who served in the SS and was wounded near Leningrad, is trying to act as the good cop.”
Prilepin complained that the United States is “pumping Ukraine full of weapons to massacre the Russians,” failing to mention that Russia is the aggressor in this war. He added: “Arnie, you are a predator and an enemy.”
I have no idea, and frankly I’m not sure anyone else really does, how effective the attempts to counter-program Schwarzenegger’s message are going to be. Putin has spent twenty years propagandizing Russians and turning Russia into a place where nothing is true, so everything and anything is possible.
Here’s today’s background briefing on Russia’s reinvasion on and war in Ukraine from the DOD:
SENIOR DEFENSE OFFICIAL: Good morning, everybody. (inaudible) here. As always, “senior defense official.”
Not a whole lot of changes today either. Still assess more than 1,100 missile launches; no real changes by the Russians on the ground near Kyiv; still hold them to be about 15 kilometers to the northwest, and still about 30 to the — to the east. Yeah, no — no real changes to speak to with respect to Chernihiv, to — to Kharkiv.
We had talked about this town, Izyum, in the east south of Kharkiv, and as you might remember, we were talking about the Russians coming down out of Kharkiv towards Izyum, which lies a little bit to the southeast of Kharkiv. With what we believe to be the Russian attempt to sort of cut off the joint forces operations area, the — basically, the — the — the Donbas. And that’s one reason, not the only reason, but one reason why we — we think they’re — they’re so interested in Mariupol, so they can come up from the north and then down from the — I’m sorry — come up from the south, down from the north from Izyum. And — and today, you know, we had talked about the — assessing that the Russians had — had — had taken Izyum, and what we’re seeing today is — is some significant fighting there by the Ukrainians in an effort to take it back. So I just thought I’d — I’d note that.
The — in — in — down in the south, you know, now that we’re talking about Mariupol, no — no real changes from yesterday to talk about with the exception of a couple of things. Obviously — and again, you guys are seeing this the same we are — lots of continued bombardment, artillery and long-range fires in the Mariupol. What we observed over the last 24 hours is that the Russians have likely been firing into the city from the sea, from the Sea of Azov, so just to the south of Mariupol. We assess that they’ve got about — about five to six ships in the Sea of Azov. Actually, I would count that as — I’d — I’d say more like seven, and — and we think some of them, at least the surface combatants — or at least some of the surface combatants have been — have been shelling into Mariupol, and that — that wasn’t the case yesterday. Now, not all of those seven ships are surface combatants. We think they’ve got a minesweeper in there and a couple of LSTs, but — but I did want to note that that is a — a — a bit of a change from — from — from yesterday.
But obviously, we continue to observe a — a — a number of Russian forces inside the city. We think at least some of them are — are separatist forces that came from the Donbas. And again, the Ukrainians are — are fighting very, very hard from — to — to keep Mariupol from — from — from falling.
No changes in — in the airspace to speak of. I already talked about the maritime environment, and I know many of you will probably ask about the Black Sea. No real changes from yesterday. We did not observe shelling of Odesa from — from the Black Sea over the last 24 hours, but we still assess that they have several warships that are — that are in the northern Black Sea. Again, it’s — like all maritime environment it — it — it changes, so I — I can’t say with certainty that it’s the same number of ships or that they’re in the same locations they were yesterday, but we still assess — we still see that — that naval activity in the northern Black Sea and no — and no sense, no indication that there is an imminent amphibious assault on or near Odesa. And again, we did not observe, at least from the navy side, we did not observe a — shelling over the last 24 hours.
Some of you are going to ask me about combat power, assess combat power, so I — I would say today’s the first day that we’ve assessed the — and again, this is an assessment, an assessment, and I want to be careful that I — I — I quantify — I qualify that, but we have assessed that for the first time that the Russians may be slightly below a 90 percent level of assessed available combat power. Again, let me remind, that is of — that is of the combat power that they assembled in Belarus and in the western part of their country prior to the invasion. It is not an assessment of all Russian military power. But we assess that for the first time, they may be just a little bit below 90 percent on that.
And no — no indications, no tangible indications of reinforcements being brought in from elsewhere in the country, no tangible indications of foreign fighters that have flown into the country. We do assess the Wagner Group is active in Ukraine. We think that that activity is largely in the Donbas area, but no indication that they’ve, you know, moved in foreign fighters from Syria or elsewhere.
And on resupply, again, no tangible indications that they are making an — an effort to resupply from outside the — the theater there, that — that they’re pulling in from elsewhere around the — around Russia. But we do continue to see indications that they are having these discussions, and that they are making those kinds of plan both in terms of resupply, and also reinforcement. It’s just that we haven’t seen that actually been — taking — take — take place.
Q: Got it. And then with the Ukrainian repulse of other Russian forces, have you assessed that anything has changed tactically with — with the Ukrainians or is this sort of the same hit-and-run attacks that you’ve talked about previously?
Yes, again, we don’t — we wouldn’t — we wouldn’t assess that there has been any major changes to their operating concepts. Again, I want to be careful here because we’re not — you know, we’re not in the operational planning cycle with these guys, and they should speak for themselves.
But we do continue to see them defend in a very nimble, agile way. You called it hit-and-run, I mean, there is certainly some of that still going on. But, again, what we’re — what we’re starting to see are indications that they are — they are — are now able and willing to take back territory that the — that the Russians have taken.
Again, I — it’s indications and it will be difficult for us to say that this marks, you know, some sort of major muscle movement member by the Ukrainian military. It’s clearly notable. Whether this is a part of some sort of larger operational plan, we can’t say for sure.
The rest of the Q&A is at the link. But it appears that the US assessment is that the Ukrainians are, where necessary, attempting to push the Russians out. Specifically in Izium.
Here’s a link to Amnesty International’s report on what the Russian’s have done in Izium and to its residents.
On 24 February, the Russian armed forces began an open invasion of Ukraine, which Amnesty International considers an act of aggression. On 3 March 2022, Ukraine and Russia first agreed to establish humanitarian corridors for civilian evacuation, however implementation has been very limited. Moreover, several Ukrainian cities and towns are living in conditions approximating a siege, with the possibility of civilians departing and humanitarian aid delivery severely restricted due to virtually perpetual shelling.
One situation emblematic of the plight of civilians living under siege-like conditions is that of Izium, a small town with population of around 56,000 people in Kharkiv Region in eastern Ukraine. Izium has not made it into the main news headlines, yet for over two weeks the town has been on the edge of a humanitarian catastrophe.
The first reports of the Russian military attacks on the town of Izium appeared on 28 February 2022, according to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Ukraine. Videos and photographs taken by the locals and verified by Amnesty International’s Crisis Evidence Lab demonstrate residential buildings damaged by Russian attacks. At night on 3 March, as a result of mass strikes by the Russian armed forces, residential areas in Ukrayinska, Proletarska, Soborna, Dontsia, Zakharzhevskoho, Heroiv Chornobyltsiv, and Staroposhtova streets were damaged, as well as the building of the Izium district police precinct.
Eight civilians were killed, including at least two children, according to media reports.2 Verified footage shows extensive damage to buildings along Soborna street, including a bank, residential apartments, and shops. The central town hospital was also hit by a strike and, as confirmed by verified video, one wing was significantly damaged. At the moment of the attack, the sick and the wounded were in the basement, according to the deputy Izium town Mayor, Volodymyr Matsokin.3 Most of the residential areas of the town were cut off from electricity, gas, heating, and mobile communication as a result of attacks.
Intense strikes restricted or often prevented the evacuation of civilians or delivery of humanitarian assistance. Evacuees reported that most of the shops were destroyed or had to close down. According to Oleg Synegubov, Head of the Kharkiv Regional Military Administration, in early March Russian troops tried to enter the town, but they could not take over and continued to keep Izium effectively under siege.4 On 9 March, due to intense attacks, the authorities managed to evacuate only 250 persons, instead of the planned 5,000.5 On 10 March, another group of up to 2,000 people were evacuated.6 Along with local authorities, local volunteers and activists used private cars to evacuate civilians, taking immense risk themselves. They operate without adequate funding, security arrangements or psychological support.
Despite evacuation efforts, many local residents, including children, older people and people with disabilities, remain in the basements and shelters of Izium. Their living conditions are dire, their food and water supplies are running out or have already been exhausted. Izium urgently needs a humanitarian corridor to enable safe evacuation of civilians wishing to leave, and delivery of humanitarian
1 Office Of the Prosecutor General Of Ukraine, “Авіаційний обстріл міста ізюм на харківщині – розпочаті кримінальні провадження”, Official Telegram Channel, 3 March
2022, Available At Https://T.Me/Pgo_Gov_Ua/3025.
2 “В ізюмі кількість жертв обстрілу зросла до восьми”, ukrinform, 3 march 2022, available at https://www.ukrinform.ua/rubric-ato/3418653-v-izumi-kilkist-zertv-obstrilu-
3 Volodymyr Matsokin, Post on Facebook, 8 March 2022, available at https://www.facebook.com/volodymyr.matsokin/posts/7675042065901336.
4 Oleg Synegubov, Head of Kharkiv Regional State Administration, on Facebook, 8 March 2022, available at
5 Denys Karlovskyi, “З ізюма не змогли евакуювали 5 тисяч мешканців через сильні обстріли окупантів”, Ukrayinska Pravda, 9 March 2022, available at
6 Telegram channel Operatyvnyi ZSU (оперативний ЗСУ), with reference to Oleg Synegubov, head of Kharkiv regional state administration, 10 march 2022, available at
Much, much more at the link.
In addition to the humanitarian disaster unfolding because of Russian military action in Izium, as the senior DOD official stated at today’s backgrounder, Izium is a key theater strategic objective for the Russians. If they can take it and hold it, then it allows them to both increase pressure on Mariupol and eventually bring pressure on Odesa. Which would further Putin’s theater strategic objective of establishing a land bridge or corridor all along the Black Sea and Sea of Azov coasts thereby cutting Ukraine completely off from their ports.
The Russians are still targeting food warehouses. Which, along with the five cargo ships containing grain they stole from the port in Berdyansk the other day, is also an indicator that this is genocide. That the intention is to terrorize the Ukrainians by destroying food supplies and starving them out.
Here’s some video from Mariupol:
In Mariupol, Azov Battalion destroyed 4 Russian tanks and several units of enemy armored fighting vehicles.
Today, the Ukrainian military also shot down one occupiers' plane which was destroying Mariupol in recent weeks pic.twitter.com/I8SgEkrH9l
— Hromadske Int. (@Hromadske) March 22, 2022
Also regarding Mariupol:
Russian Gen Mikhail Mizintsev, whose success as the butcher of Syria brought him to Mariupol, which he is pounding into oblivion. @KseniaSvetlova reports that he, personally, ordered the bombings of the maternity hospital, the theater & residential buildings in the besieged city. https://t.co/tvPHAFyyYm
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) March 22, 2022
Other than this and scattered reporting of people trying to escape the Russian siege, there’s not much reporting for obvious reasons.
This is an interesting thread from a Ukrainian sociologist on why the accusations of bias against Ukrainian journalists, subject matter experts, and government officials is wrong and basically ignores first person eye witness accounts and experiences. It also discounts these experiences and is chauvinistic towards the Ukrainians. I very much agree with his argument, so there’s my bias.
Another surprising miscalculation. I often see that Ukrainians (officials, media, scholars, NGO) are often perceived and treated exclusively as eye witnesses, a biased part of the conflict. This, their data, ideas and narratives are immediately disregard…1/15
— Tymofii Brik (@brik_t) March 22, 2022
Which is weird, because this underlying assumption is only a part of the story. People working in social science know it very well. We all are biases and not neutral, but we have protocols and tools to address these biases and control for them. The biggest problem here is… 2/15
That Ukrainians have a significant expertise, and people throw it away because they don’t know how to identify and control biases. This is not efficient. Examples of expertise are: 3/15
This is not the first Russian invasion to Ukraine, there are many diplomats (under 2 different presidents) who participated in negotiasions with Russians. Local journalists covered it, local think-tanks worked on strategies etc. 4/15
Dozens of NGO have worked with displaced people. They also worked with people who were imprisoned and tortured in Luhansk and Donetsk, they collected data on people who disappeared or died. 5/15
Ukraine developed formal democratic institutions that do not exist in many post-soviet countries. Perhaps we know a thing or two about democratic development 6/15
Ukraine was a testing ground for Russian cyber and information warfare since 2015. We know their playbook and have developed some strategies. 7/15
We have a normal war economy. With many challenges of course, but the parliament is able to vote, central bank is working, trains are running, local governments function, groceries are open etc. 8/15
Our military has expertise of dealing with Russians. They saw a “safe corridor” in Ilovaisk in 2014. They know the mentality and playbooks of Russian soldiers. 9/15
Most importantly, Ukrainians have developed a fine tuned bullshit detector to see Russia for what it is. We don’t take their words at face value and have many tools to verify their true intentions. We know their language, we know their informal institutions 10/15
For us, words like “common Russians” or “not all Russians are the same” have very tangible meaning. Our survival depends on our ability to read signals and identify honest intentions. We have developed many informal rules and “red flags” . That is why ukrainians were 11/15
cautious about that “brave Russian journalist”. The thing is she also recorded a message, which was just a compilation of imperialistic cliches about “brethren nations”. For us this is a very strong “red flag”, while western partners do not even look there 12/15
Everyday I hear patronizing words “you just have to start talking, you have to see that not all Russians are the same, Dostoevsky! Tolstoy!” But they are preaching to the choir. We now this. We talked, and we developed strategies to analyze their words. The point is 13/15
Western partners must realize that they don’t have expertise in many domains where they patronize. Instead they have to update their priors and take our protocols seriously. We are open to teach a workshop or run a summer school 14/15
Ukr voices cannot be dismissed on the premise that they are biased. Democratic institutions have many formal rules to accommodate people with different opinions. It is 100% possible to include non-neutral voices. Especially if they have expertise which others don’t 15/15
Typos typos typos…sorry about that.
President Zelenskyy is scheduled to address the NATO senior leaders summit on Thursday. As I’m sure everyone has noted, he regularly addresses different countries legislatures to both update them and appeal for assistance. He also, when appropriate, delivers a heaping, helping of shame. Here’s the transcript from his address to the Knesset in Israel last Sunday. Where he let them have it with both barrels, repeatedly reloaded, and let them have it again and again. As you can imagine, it upset all the usual suspects in Israel.
Dear Mr. Speaker, members of the Knesset.
Dear Prime Minister Bennett, thank you very much for your support.
Dear members of the Government of the State of Israel, all attendees, guests, people of Israel!
The Ukrainian and Jewish communities have always been and, I am sure, will be very intertwined, very close. They will always live side by side. And they will feel both joy and pain together.
That is why I want to remind you of the words of a great woman from Kyiv, whom you know very well. The words of Golda Meir. They are very famous, everyone has heard of them. Apparently, every Jew. Many, many Ukrainians as well. And certainly no less Russians. “We intend to remain alive. Our neighbors want to see us dead. This is not a question that leaves much room for compromise.”
I don’t need to convince you how intertwined our stories are. Stories of Ukrainians and Jews. In the past, and now, in this terrible time. We are in different countries and in completely different conditions. But the threat is the same: for both us and you – the total destruction of the people, state, culture. And even of the names: Ukraine, Israel.
I want you to feel it all. I want you to think about this date. About February 24. About the beginning of this invasion. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. February 24 – this day has twice gone down in history. And both times – as a tragedy. A tragedy for Ukrainians, for Jews, for Europe, for the world.
On February 24, 1920, the National Socialist Workers’ Party of Germany (NSDAP) was founded. A party that took millions of lives. Destroyed entire countries. Tried to kill nations.
One hundred two years later, on February 24, a criminal order was issued to launch a full-scale Russian invasion of Ukraine. The invasion, which has claimed thousands of lives, has left millions homeless. Made them exiles. On their land and in neighboring countries. In Poland, Slovakia, Romania, Germany, the Czech Republic, the Baltic States and dozens of different countries.
Our people are now scattered around the world. They are looking for security. They are looking for a way to stay in peace. As you once searched.
This Russian invasion of Ukraine is not just a military operation, as Moscow claims. This is a large-scale and treacherous war aimed at destroying our people. Destroying our children, our families. Our state. Our cities. Our communities. Our culture. And everything that makes Ukrainians Ukrainians. Everything that Russian troops are now destroying. Deliberately. In front of the whole world.
That is why I have the right to this parallel and to this comparison. Our history and your history. Our war for our survival and World War II.
Listen to what the Kremlin says. Just listen! There are even terms that sounded then. And this is a tragedy. When the Nazi party raided Europe and wanted to destroy everything. Destroy everyone. Wanted to conquer the nations. And leave nothing from us, nothing from you. Even the name and the trace. They called it “the final solution to the Jewish issue”. You remember that. And I’m sure you will never forget!
But listen to what is sounding now in Moscow. Hear how these words are said again: “Final solution”. But already in relation, so to speak, to us, to the “Ukrainian issue”.
It sounded openly. This is a tragedy. Once again, it was said at a meeting in Moscow. It is available on official websites. This was quoted in the state media of Russia. Moscow says so: without the war against us, they would not be able to ensure a “final solution” allegedly for their own security. Just like it was said 80 years ago.
People of Israel!
You saw Russian missiles hit Kyiv, Babyn Yar. You know what kind of land it is. More than 100,000 Holocaust victims are buried there. There are ancient Kyiv cemeteries. There is a Jewish cemetery. Russian missiles hit there.
People of Israel!
On the first day of this war, Russian projectiles hit our city of Uman. A city visited by tens of thousands of Israelis every year. For a pilgrimage to the tomb of Nachman of Breslov. What will be left of all such places in Ukraine after this terrible war?
I am sure that every word of my address echoes with pain in your hearts. Because you feel what I’m talking about. But can you explain why we still turn to the whole world, to many countries for help? We ask you for help… Even for basic visas…
What is it? Indifference? Premeditation? Or mediation without choosing a party? I will leave you a choice of answer to this question. And I will note only one thing – indifference kills. Premeditation is often erroneous. And mediation can be between states, not between good and evil.
Everyone in Israel knows that your missile defense is the best. It is powerful. Everyone knows that your weapon is strong. Everyone knows you’re doing great. You know how to defend your state interests, the interests of your people. And you can definitely help us protect our lives, the lives of Ukrainians, the lives of Ukrainian Jews.
One can keep asking why we can’t get weapons from you. Or why Israel has not imposed strong sanctions against Russia. Why it doesn’t put pressure on Russian business. But it is up to you, dear brothers and sisters, to choose the answer. And you will have to live with this answer, people of Israel.
Ukrainians have made their choice. Eighty years ago. They rescued Jews. That is why the Righteous Among the Nations are among us.
People of Israel, now you have such a choice.
Thank you for everything.
This was the only actual appropriate Israeli response to President Zelenskyy’s address, short of actually doing something useful. It was made by Foreign Minister and Prime Minister in waiting Yair Lapid, which makes sense given what we know of Lapid’s character.
There are no words: Israeli FM Yair Lapid, 58, whose father Yosef survived the Holocaust in Hungary, refuses to critique Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, 44, whose grandfather Semyon fought the Nazis and lost his father & three brothers to the Holocaust. https://t.co/Demw5XMDwS
— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) March 21, 2022
Part of the reason that President Zelenskyy’s remarks struck discordant notes with the Israelis, aside from the fact that he properly shamed them and they don’t like having that done to them, is that Zelenskyy talks about the Holocaust as someone who grew up and was initially educated in the Soviet education system and its immediate successor in eastern Ukraine after the Soviet Union fell. As I’ve repeatedly noted, the Soviet Union reimagined World War II for its own internal propaganda purposes. They turned it into The Great Patriotic War where the Soviets were the NAZIs’ real targets and victims, the Jews who were designated by Stalin as rootless cosmopolitans and globalists (sound familiar?) aided and abetted the NAZIs, and the US and the other allies helped a little bit. But if it wasn’t for Russia winning the whole damn thing for the world, the NAZIs would have won. It also, of course, completely ignores Stalin’s alliance with Hitler in the 1930s. So when Zelenskyy talks about the Holocaust and World War II, even though he knows as someone who is Jewish what it was really about, his education in this alternate history still frames and undergirds his remarks. This sounds odd to Israeli ears. And since the Israelis also don’t like anyone else invoking the Holocaust as a justification for action, that pissed them off too!
Here’s an interesting thread by someone under 30 that gets at the alternative history of World War II taught by the Soviets and then by Russian and the post Soviet states after the fall of the Soviet Union (don’t freak, there is no tweet #2, she misnumbered them, the tweet numbered as 3 is actually tweet number 2):
?I lived in Moscow between ages 5-8 and completed 1st grade in a Russian public school.
Some things I remember & was taught, much to the horror of my parents – a thread to illustrate the kind of “mundane militarism” environment present in Russia some 15+ years ago. (1/?)
— Kvitka Perehinets ?? (@kvitkanadiia) March 19, 2022
Looking back at pictures of me starting school, you would’ve thought they were taken pre-USSR collapse. My school had a plaque on it commemorating the memory of the alumni-Heroes of the Soviet Union. Hammer and sickles casually featured in most school posters in hallways. (3/?)
Aged 6, I was taught that World War 2 was actually the “Great Patriotic War”, and it started in 1941, not 1939 – a useful omission of the Molotov-Ribbentrop Pact. To this day, it’s widely accepted the war started in 1941. (4/?)
On May 9, “Victory Day”, children in first grade (my grade then) were split into pairs and had to take turns standing side by side next to a bigger plaque with names of all alumni-Red Army soldiers with a miniature version of the eternal flame lit between them. (5/?)
Turns lasted 15 mins each, and there was a schedule of shifts during classes and breaks. We were told we had to stand in silence and “think about the sacrifices they made”. The infamous ribbon of St George was also a must. I so wish I was making this up. (6/?)
The pinnacle of all this was how it made an impression on me. My parents told me they made the unequivocal decision to leave Moscow immediately after I came home from school and told my mum that Russia is the world’s greatest country and the liberator of Europe. (7/?)
Little did I know that in my home, Ukraine, one occupation was simply replaced by another in 1945. Little did I know my grandfather’s family, members of the Ukrainian intelligentsia, had been sent away to the Russian Far East after NKVD came to their home one night. (8/?)
To think that the scenes from Luzhniki Stadium yesterday are an incredible one-off show of support and a recent development is foolish. This cult of Russian imperialism has always been present. Now, in 2014, in 2008, all the years in between and before. (9/?)
What we’re seeing is a maniacal personification of the nostalgia for Russia’s perceived historical “greatness”. As always, at the expense of other people’s lives and rights. At the expense of Ukraine, the Baltics, Moldova, Georgia, and so many others. (10/10)
Your daily bayraktar:
The Ukrainian Bayraktar long-endurance unmanned combat aerial vehicle destroys Russian invaders’ tanks in Chornobaivka near Kherson, Ukraine #KhersonisUkraine #UkraineRussianWar #UkraineResistance #UkraineWillWin #UkraineArmedForces #StandWithUkraine️ #UkraineUnderAttack pic.twitter.com/WDiEbxyj3r
— Ua Position (@UaPosition) March 23, 2022
And your other daily Bayraktar!
Meet Bayraktar – this little puppy was rescued and adopted by my cousin few days ago
What a funny joyful cute creation! pic.twitter.com/NlZPEyEejG
— Xenta (@Xenta777) March 15, 2022
Whose the cutest little Bayraktar? You are!!!!
We’ll finish with this:
— Bon Jovi (@BonJovi) March 22, 2022