I just want to make a quick clarification/correction from last night’s post as a sentence got away from me in the writing and I didn’t catch it on the read through before hitting publish. The second question about the Starlink Snowflake should have been and is:
Let’s stipulate that the Starlink Snowflake is not actually being influenced by our adversaries – Russia, PRC, Saudi, UAE – the last two also being major investors in Twitter from before his takeout and the PRC having major control over Tesla’s ability to do business in China and to source materials for the car batteries; what exactly would he be doing differently if they were?
The answer is nothing. He would be doing nothing differently. And that’s the real problem here.
Here is President Zelenskyy’s address from earlier today. Video below, English transcript after the jump:
Dear Ukrainians, I wish you health!
I briefly report on the day, which started very early today, it was very active, and my schedule for this day is not yet exhausted.
I just held another meeting of the Staff. The main issues are the front. The provision of our troops, the situation in particular sections of the front line and that we are planning to increase the number of Ukrainian flags in the cities in the south and east of the country.
The battles in Donetsk region were discussed separately. Reports were presented. We are doing everything to help our heroes withstand Russian attacks.
Of course, special attention was paid to energy.
The composition of the participants of the Staff meeting is traditional. The Commander-in-Chief, commanders and all who work for our defense.
An extremely important visit to Ukraine took place today – the visit of the new British Prime Minister, Rishi Sunak. A very meaningful visit. We managed to discuss all the key issues of our relations. There will be new results for both our countries – that’s for sure.
Thank you, Rishi, Mr. Prime Minister, for your willingness to defend freedom even more strongly with us. We also have some very necessary decisions – we agreed on them today.
As always, today I received reports on restoration work in the energy sector.
We are working throughout the country to stabilize the situation.
The most problems with electricity are in the city of Kyiv and Kyiv region, the city of Odesa and Odesa region, the city of Kharkiv and Kharkiv region. Vinnytsia, Ternopil, Cherkasy, Chernihiv and other regions – energy workers are doing everything possible to give people a normal life.
Kherson – we are restoring transport connections. There is the first train from Kyiv. We create new opportunities for people every day.
We are preparing important international events – they will be soon. We will provide everything that is needed for our protection.
We involve everyone who can be involved in supporting our state.
Thank you to everyone who works for Ukraine!
Thank you to everyone who fights for Ukraine!
Thanks to everyone in the world who helps!
Glory to Ukraine!
From First Lady Zelenskyya:
Photo: Eddy van Wessel
— Олена Зеленська (@ZelenskaUA) November 18, 2022
I just want to take a moment and note, again, that what Russia is doing and has been doing since the start of the re-invasion, is the systemic targeting of civilians, civilian residential areas, civilian infrastructure such as power generation, power transmission, water treatment facilities, reservoirs, railways, agriculture, hospitals, schools, cultural facilities, the widespread mining of Ukrainian territory occupied by Russia, the kidnapping of Ukrainian children to Russia, the use of Ukrainian citizens as hostages, etc. The vast majority of Russia’s targeting in the re-invasion constitute war crimes and crimes against humanity. And while we’ve been consistent here about this – me in the update posts, you all in comments – the news media regularly fails to make this clear.
Everywhere in the liberated Kherson we meet teams of sappers or mines stacked in rows. This is a critical task. Russians mined everything and the territory is extremely littered. Until then, people can't return to their homes. pic.twitter.com/0XRdXVsLdZ
— Maria Avdeeva (@maria_avdv) November 17, 2022
Peskov openly said they fire missiles because Ukraine doesn't want to negotiate.
This means that russian military is in serious trouble, and the Kremlin knows this. There is no other reason they would be so desperate to negotiate otherwise.
— Maria Drutska 🇺🇦 (@maria_drutska) November 17, 2022
Meanwhile in Russia: a lawmaker argues that the strikes against Ukraine's critical infrastructure are meant to express Russia's "holy hatred" towards Ukrainians and prompt them to overthrow Zelensky. Others pontificate that freezing Ukrainian civilians will prompt a capitulation. pic.twitter.com/5NXSxnl4B4
— Julia Davis (@JuliaDavisNews) November 19, 2022
Here is former NAVDEVGRU Squadron Leader Chuck Pfarrer’s latest assessment on the situation in Izium:
IZIUM AXIS /0230 UTC 19 NOV/ UKR forces have consolidated incremental advances and have established positions within 200 meters of the important P-66 HWY. This effectively cuts the Line of Communication and Supply (LOCS) linking RU forces in the city of Svatove and Kremenna. pic.twitter.com/XSgms75BcH
— Chuck Pfarrer | Indications & Warnings | (@ChuckPfarrer) November 19, 2022
The first train coming to Kherson from Kyiv following the liberation day.
Note it how local folks are meeting it! pic.twitter.com/9I9RrDG0ec
— Illia Ponomarenko 🇺🇦 (@IAPonomarenko) November 19, 2022
— Kristina Berdynskykh (@berdynskykh_k) November 19, 2022
— Olga Tokariuk (@olgatokariuk) November 19, 2022
Meduza takes a deep dive into how the Russian neo-NAZI – the actual NAZIs in Ukraine… – has hacked into cryptocurrency exchanges to steal funds to support their operations against the Ukrainians:
The paramilitary group Rusich is one of multiple Russian far-right and neo-Nazi organizations that have fought in the war in Ukraine. Because it’s not an official part of the Russian Armed Forces, Rusich has had to find alternative ways of funding its members’ military equipment and medical needs — and has found the perfect solution in cryptocurrency. Meduza special correspondent Lilia Yapparova explains how Russian white supremacists have used the blockchain Ethereum to siphon money from a Ukrainian charity foundation — and how they’ve encouraged other Russian fighters to use crypto to extort money from the families of murdered POWs.
The logo of the Ukrainian charity foundation Happy New Life depicts two hands opening towards the sky, a “tree of life” growing out of them. On its website, donors can send money to support the Ukrainian Armed Forces, provide aid to refugees, and even assist victims in the case of “radiation contamination in Europe” — a potential consequence of Russia’s occupation of the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant, the site explains.
The foundation, created in June 2022, was an outgrowth of a volunteer initiative from Dnipro, its director, Daniel Ovcharenko, told Meduza. And to give the organization “at least some kind of [online] face,” he said, its creators made a “very inexpensive” website for it. The site shows pictures of Ukrainian children and soldiers along with a call to action: “Today, we’re fighting against a terrorist state. And our victory will be the victory of the entire civilized world… Sometimes lighting a candle is enough to overpower the darkness.” The other half of the screen shows large “Donate” button.”
But Meduza has learned that at least a portion of the money donated through the site has gone not to Ukrainian causes but to the Russian paramilitary group Rusich — a detachment of neo-Nazis fighting in Ukraine on the side of the Russian army. At the very least, that’s who owns the cryptocurrency wallet listed as a donation method on the Happy New Life site, according to financial investigator Artem Irgebaev, who has thoroughly examined Rusich’s network of crypto accounts.
Rusich is known for its brutality. It leader, neo-Nazi Alexey Milchakov, has been photographed next to the mutilated bodies of Ukrainian soldiers, and the detachment’s Telegram channel has called for the torture of Ukrainian POWs and the murder of civilians.
Happy New Life founder Daniel Ovcharenko doesn’t know how the address for Rusich’s crypto wallet got on the foundation’s site; according to him, a link to the charity’s own wallet used to be in the same spot on the homepage.
“I got the wallet that the foundation uses from [the cryptocurrency wallet software] MetaMask — and it’s completely different, except that the first three characters are the same [as the address of Rusich’s wallet],” Ovcharenko told Meduza. He admitted that he himself had very little involvement with the site, and that he “didn’t double check the digits in the address [listed on its homepage].”
At some point, Rusich managed to hack into the Happy New Life site and switch out the crypto wallet link, Irgebaev told Meduza.
“A similar thing happened with a site that sold proxy servers, where one of the payment methods was crypto. An attacker replaced the site owner’s [crypto wallet] address with his own, and the site then worked like that for two days: people sent money not to the person selling servers, but to the hacker,” he explained. “Internet scammers do this regularly. And Rusich, it’s becoming clear, is a group with wide-ranging ‘talents’ — they have both mercenaries and hackers.”
The Rusich crypto wallet linked on the Happy New Life site is still receiving deposits. According to Etherscan.io, a website that catalogs Ethereum blockchain transactions, the wallet contains more than $7,000 with the current exchange rate.
In late July, financial investigator Artem Irgebaev downloaded a game called Synthetik: Legion Rising from a torrent website.
“My friends and I downloaded this ancient shooting game [Editor’s note: the game came out in 2018] that was 700 megabytes, and we noticed that [after the torrent file downloaded on our computers, they started exhibiting] this sort of unhealthy behavior,” Irgebaev said. “We shut off the Internet and started digging to find out what kind of malware this was and what it was doing.”
The program didn’t steal any passwords, nor did it try to hijack their accounts. But upon closer inspection, Irgebaev “found several crypto wallet addresses directly in binary code.” It became clear that his device had been infected by something called clipboard malware that was built to steal cryptocurrency:
Here’s how it looks to the victim. Let’s say you want to send money to your friend. Entering his 32-character crypto wallet address is a tedious task, so you just copy it from your notes [to paste it] straight into your wallet or exchange account. The address goes onto your clipboard, and at that moment, the malware replaces it with the attackers’ address. Then, instead of going to the person the user intended, the money goes to the scammers.
Much, much, much more at the link!
I had hoped, and I expressed this in one of the earliest updates back in March, that the US ramping up the sanctions regime would be accompanied by a real attempt to crack down on the white collar crime that the Russians, through the oligarchs who straddle legitimate business, organized crime, and being part of Russia’s security apparatus, undertake. Also, a variety of ultra-wealthy Americans, as well as the PRC, the Saudis, the Emiratis, and a number of others. Because without doing so the sanctions regime would ultimately be unsuccessful. Unfortunately, there’s been no crackdown. Which has allowed all the mechanisms that these individuals, criminal organizations, and governments to remain in place and be used to do significant damage.
The Washington Post brings us a deep dive into the Ukrainian partisan underground in Kherson and their work with Ukrainian SOF:
Ihor didn’t even know the first name of the person who contacted him. The man said he was a member of Ukraine’s Special Operations Forces and wanted to know if Ihor was interested in helping fight the Russians occupying his city of Kherson.
“Sign me up,” Ihor responded.
For months, the two kept up a coded communication over the Telegram messaging app. Sometimes Ihor would be asked to help pinpoint locations from which the Russians were firing artillery. Other times, he sent the man, who asked to be called Smoke, the positions of Russian troops, armored vehicles and ammunition stocks.
Then in August, Ihor had a more dangerous task from Smoke. There was a cache of weapons hidden somewhere in Kherson, and Ihor needed to bury them in a different location and wait for the signal. Eventually, Smoke told him, Ihor might be called on to take up one of the arms and help Ukrainian soldiers if the battle for Kherson turned to street fighting and small sabotage groups would be necessary.
“Around the city, there were a lot of people with weapons who were waiting for the right time to use them,” Ihor said. He declined to provide his surname out of concern for his safety, and Smoke asked to be identified only by his call sign because of his work in special forces.
During more than eight months of Russian occupation, an underground resistance movement formed in Kherson, the lone regional capital Vladimir Putin’s military was able to capture since the start of its invasion last February.
Stories of brave Ukrainian citizens standing up to the invading soldiers have been widespread throughout the war. But Kherson, occupied since early March, was a unique hub for resistance activity where many civilians worked in close coordination with handlers from Ukrainian security services.
Help from inside occupied territories — at times beyond the reach of Ukraine’s missiles and artillery — has proven key for Kyiv in pulling off some of its most brazen attacks, including at an airfield in Crimea, which Moscow illegally annexed in 2014.
In Kherson and in the occupied city of Melitopol, about 140 miles to the east, there have been mysterious explosions during the war that have killed or injured Russian-installed authorities. Those blasts are believed to be the work of resistance fighters, also known as partisans, or Ukrainian special forces working behind enemy lines. Sometimes, bombs exploded in occupying officials’ cars or at their homes.
People often did not know who among their neighbors or co-workers were also resistance fighters. In interviews, two members of the resistance claimed that they managed to kill a few drunk Russians walking alone in the streets by stabbing them. Those claims could not be verified. But mostly the partisans were given nonviolent assignments, resistance fighters and military officers said, such as hiding weapons or explosives at a certain location, identifying collaborators, or reporting where Russian soldiers and their materials were based. That information was then used to direct Ukrainian artillery fire.
In Kherson, it all added up to a subtle insurgency that Ukraine’s military leaned on as the southern front line drew closer and closer to the city, ultimately forcing the Russians to retreat last week. With Kherson city now free of Russian soldiers, the resistance movement is rising to the surface.
In the central square this week, Smoke, wearing a balaclava, ran up to Ihor and hugged him tightly.
Much more, including the picture of Smoke and Ihor, at the link! Also, someone should’ve given Ihor a balaclava too! For OPSEC purposes!
Finally, The Irish Times brings us a different story of resistance from Kherson:
He stayed indoors to evade Russian patrols, watching movies on his laptop. On sunny days, he strolled in a small, walled courtyard. Afraid to be seen, he peeked cautiously from behind curtains, watching as Russians moved in across the street.
He is Timothy Morales, an American English teacher, who hid from the Russian military and secret police through the entire eight-month occupation of the city of Kherson in southern Ukraine, afraid that his nationality had made him a target. He emerged in public only after the Ukrainian army liberated the city last week.
“I had fleeting moments of despair,” Morales said in an interview in a central square in Kherson, where he now walks openly with ribbons in yellow and blue, the Ukrainian national colours, tied to his tweed coat. “But I knew at some point this day would come.”
The thud of artillery fired toward the city from Russian positions across the Dnieper River still rattles windows, and Kherson remains a grim and dark city, without electricity, water or heating. Most of its residents fled months ago, and the retreating Russians took with them anything of value they could carry.
Beginning at dawn, many of the remaining civilians form gigantic lines to get bread or to fill plastic jugs with water. Not until Tuesday did the first convoys arrive with humanitarian aid, their trucks parked in the square to hand out boxes of flour, soap, wipes and goodies like instant milkshake mix.
But for Morales (56), a former college professor, the worst was behind him – no more anxious cat-and-mouse games with the Russians. Raised in Banbury, England, he had lived for years in Oklahoma City teaching English literature, and had opened an English-language school in Kherson before the Russian invasion in February.
In the chaotic, early days of the war, as Russian tanks battled with the few Ukrainian troops in the region and a scrappy but quickly overrun volunteer defence force, Morales became trapped behind Russian lines.
He tried once to escape on a highway to the north, he said, but turned back when he saw tanks firing on the road ahead. He managed to send his 10-year-old daughter to safety, travelling with his former wife, but could not make it out himself.
“I didn’t want to risk it with my passport,” he said of the gauntlet of Russian military checkpoints.
He had done nothing illegal, under the laws of any nation. But the Kremlin has cast the United States and its allies, which are arming Ukrainian troops, as the real enemy in this war, blaming them for its battlefield setbacks. Morales feared that Russian troops would detain him merely for being American.
He became a survivor of – and furtive witness to – Russia’s assault, its harsh occupation and its failed effort to assimilate parts of Ukraine and root out any opposition.
Much, much more at the link!
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— Patron (@PatronDsns) November 19, 2022
There are no new videos today from Patron’s official TikTok. But here’s a replay of Patron with his toy ducks and chickens from yesterday.