Category Archive 'Ukraine'
10 Dec 2018

Russia Lining Up Tanks Near Ukraine Border

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Defense Blog:

Satellite imagery from Google Earth taken on November shows hundreds of Russian main battle tanks at a new military base on the outskirts of the Kamensk-Shakhtinsky.

The large-scale military base only 18 kilometers away from the border with toward rebel-held territory in eastern Ukraine. Images show hundreds of main battle tank like as T-64 and also T-62M, while a thousand military trucks, artillery systems and tankers are located slightly higher.

Russia has been ramping up its forces near the border with Ukraine since August and now poses the greatest military threat since 2014, the year Moscow annexed Crimea, the commander of Ukraine’s armed forces told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

Muzhenko said Russian troop levels were at “the highest” since 2014, when Moscow annexed Crimea and then deployed forces to eastern Ukraine.

“In front of us is an aggressor who has no legal, moral or any other limits,” he said. “It is very difficult to predict when it will occur to him to begin active combat actions against Ukraine.”

23 Aug 2018

Donetsk, Ukraine

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photo: Viktor Macha.

23 Oct 2015

Ukrainian Sculptor Improves Statue of Lenin

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LeninVader
After

A local sculptor, Alexander Milov, in the Ukrainian city of Yuzhne, outside Odessa, converted a statue of Lenin which was scheduled for demolition as the result of de-Communization legislation requiring the removal and demolition of all Soviet-era monuments into a statue of a figure more popular in today’s Ukraine: Darth Vader.

The Vader statue contains a router in its head, broadcasting WiFi locally.

Meduza

LeninStatue
Before

23 May 2015

Gods Partying in Kiev

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GodsinKiev

Alexey Kondakov, an artist based in Kiev, Ukraine, has created a series of Photoshopped images demonstrating how the gods and characters of antiquity portrayed in classical paintings would look if they appeared alongside us in contemporary settings. leenks

11 Feb 2015

Bitter Polish Humor

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VodkaMapofPoland
Translation: “Garçon, bring us a bottle of vodka and a map of Poland.”

The Guardian:

Ukraine conflict: four-nation peace talks in Minsk aim to end crisis

Planned summit in Belarus capital on Wednesday comes after intense diplomacy between France, Germany, Ukraine and Russia

19 Nov 2014

If Lithuania Were to Intervene in Ukraine…

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Vytautas_dydysis
Detal from Jan Matejko, Battle of Grunwald, 1878, National Museum, Warsaw: Grand Duke Witold (your typical Lithuanian) breaking through the German line.

Kat Argo thinks Lithuanian special forces injected into the Ukraine conflict would rapidly clean the Russian militias’ clocks.

There has been a lot of strong rhetoric from the Lithuanian government in reference to the Ukrainian Crisis. The small country by the Baltic Sea has been one of Kyiv’s greatest allies in the EU and NATO. Their ambassador, at an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council in response to the separatist Donetsk People’s Republic’s parade of captured Ukrainian Soldiers at bayonet-point, had said, “… instead of seeking the solution, Russia has been escalating the situation as flow of weapons, equipment, mercenaries and now troops continue across Russia’s borders into the territory of Ukraine. Let us be clear; weapons don’t fall in the hands of rebels out of blue skies.”

Likewise, Lithuanian officials have made their anti-Russia stance completely clear.

What little experience I have with Lithuanians is with their most elite soldiers in Afghanistan – the Aitvaras, or their Special Forces (LITHSOF) – and I know that if they were to respond to the Ukrainian Crisis, it would change.

The LITHSOF were the mechanized horsemen of the Apocalypse – where they rode, death would come after.

Instead of horses, they had four motorcycles, and wore a black and white kerchief over their nose and mouth with the outline of a skull. The Taliban feared them.

They had a blatant disregard for US regulations, such as the 10km/h speed limit around the base or the need to constantly wear helmets and reflective belts. If the rule was stupid, they didn’t follow it. Their sense of independence, and unit autonomy drove many an American commander insane.

Once, the Lithuanians were refueling a vehicle on base, and a young American sergeant approached to correct their lack of helmets and protective gear. The driver shrugged and claimed “No English!” and drove off (too fast), leaving the young sergeant standing in his dust.

With only dozens of LITHSOF in Afghanistan, they made their numbers count. They became the terror of the Taliban in Zabul Province. It was the single justification of their existence, and the basis of their legend. They were amazing fighters, vicious and joyful in the combat, living in a constant, controlled recklessness.

They criticized the American’s unwillingness to go outside the wire, and the accompanying safety regulations that degraded common sense.

“You want to play safe in war? That is how you lose…” or more directly, “We are soldiers. Not children.”

They would go out on a dime if called upon. No fear. No excuses. They bent the rules if it helped the mission.

For all that viciousness, they were gracious hosts. They opened their compound to a few of us who would spend our evenings smoking cigars in their “cave” – a place that became a sanctuary for many of us.

They made us loose-leaf chamomile tea from fresh flowers or coffee from fresh grounds with fresh honey (imported from their home). Each newcomer has to try their sauna, which they were very proud of. Through my time, I often asked for permission to steal a cup of coffee or grab some of their tea, until they became frustrated and said, “Katyte, you don’t understand,” using the nickname they had picked out for me, which was the cute form of the word cat, “Our cave is your cave. Feel free, don’t hesitate. Stop asking!”

Around the base, their commander was called Leonidas (but never to his face) which was a reference to his striking resemblance to the Spartan King, as played by Gerard Butler. The name also suited his reputation.

Leonidas once sat me down to teach me numbers, days, months in his native Lithuanian language – which, by the way, was not easy. Late at night, when I couldn’t sleep, he would sit with me in the common room and we would talk about life, about family, and he would try to impart his brotherly advice.

“We are a big family in this cave,” Leonidas said, “We spend more time with each other than even our real family. We fight, we get angry at each other, but we are family. And I think we are your family too.”

Leonidas once told me that Americans were too used to a comfortable life – in prosperity we had lost our perspective. We were a comfortable, fat, super power and losing our sight of the world.

Leonidas lamented the Russian invasion of Lithuania.

He explained to me that their society had been prosperous, comfortable and fat too. They gave up their liberties for continued comfort until the day they were invaded when they had no more of their liberty left to trade.

“The Russians were allowed to take over without firing one single shot,” he said.

It was shameful to him, and he spoke with great resolve, declaring that it would never happen again. The little country of Lithuania would never allow themselves to be taken cheaply again and, through the conviction of his dark eyes, I came to believe that Putin would have to pry Lithuania’s liberty from Leonidas’ cold, clenched fist.

Read the whole thing.

31 Aug 2014

Another Summer of 1939?

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Novorossiya2
Novorossiya

Max Fisher identifies the key term in Vladimir Putin’s rhetoric.

Russian President Vladimir Putin just dropped the biggest, scariest dogwhistle of the Ukraine crisis: “Novorossiya.”

The word literally means “new Russia” — it was an old, imperial-era term for southern Ukraine, when it was part of the Russian Empire, and is now a term used by Russia ultra-nationalists who want to re-conquer the area.

Putin has used the word twice during the crisis. First, he used it in April, about a month after Russia had invaded and annexed the Ukrainian region of Crimea, subtly suggesting that the annexation was justified because Crimea was in Novorossiya and thus inherently part of Russia.

He used it again on Thursday, in an official presidential statement addressed to the eastern Ukrainian rebels that have seized parts of the country — and whom he addressed as “the militia of Novorossiya.”

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Anne Applebaum, who has written a book on the totalitarian genocides committed in Europe’s Eastern Borderlands during the last century, tells us that she suddenly feels as if she is living in the Summer of 1939, and warns, on the basis of familiarity with the kinds of things which appear in the Russian press which the New York Times is never going to report, just how scary the thoughts are that Russia is thinking.

A few days ago, Alexander Dugin, an extreme nationalist whose views have helped shape those of the Russian president, issued an extraordinary statement. “Ukraine must be cleansed of idiots,” he wrote — and then called for the “genocide” of the “race of bastards.”

But Novorossiya will also be hard to sustain if it has opponents in the West. Possible solutions to that problem are also under discussion. Not long ago, Vladimir Zhirinovsky — the Russian member of parliament and court jester who sometimes says things that those in power cannot — argued on television that Russia should use nuclear weapons to bomb Poland and the Baltic countries — “dwarf states,” he called them — and show the West who really holds power in Europe: “Nothing threatens America, it’s far away. But Eastern European countries will place themselves under the threat of total annihilation,” he declared. Vladimir Putin indulges these comments: Zhirinovsky’s statements are not official policy, the Russian president says, but he always “gets the party going.”

A far more serious person, the dissident Russian analyst Andrei Piontkovsky, has recently published an article arguing, along lines that echo Zhirinovsky’s threats, that Putin really is weighing the possibility of limited nuclear strikes — perhaps against one of the Baltic capitals, perhaps a Polish city — to prove that NATO is a hollow, meaningless entity that won’t dare strike back for fear of a greater catastrophe. Indeed, in military exercises in 2009 and 2013, the Russian army openly “practiced” a nuclear attack on Warsaw.

Is all of this nothing more than the raving of lunatics? Maybe. And maybe Putin is too weak to do any of this, and maybe it’s just scare tactics, and maybe his oligarchs will stop him. But “Mein Kampf” also seemed hysterical to Western and German audiences in 1933. Stalin’s orders to “liquidate” whole classes and social groups within the Soviet Union would have seemed equally insane to us at the time, if we had been able to hear them.

31 Aug 2014

These Days, Not Such a Wonderful Life

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pottersville

A Facebook friend of Glenn Reynolds recently argued that, life under the leadership of Barack Obama, is a lot like the vision of Pottersville George Bailey was shown by the angel Clarence.

Let’s accept, arguendo, that the outgoing DIA chief is right, and that we are now in an era of danger similar to the mid-1930s. How did we get here? It’s worth looking back into the mists of time — an entire year, to Labor Day weekend 2013. What had not happened then? It’s quite a list, actually: the Chinese ADIZ, the Russian annexation of Crimea, the rise of ISIS, the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the fall of Mosul, the end of Hungarian liberal democracy, the Central American refugee crisis, the Egyptian-UAE attacks on Libya, the extermination of Iraqi Christians, the Yazidi genocide, the scramble to revise NATO’s eastern-frontier defenses, the Kristallnacht-style pogroms in European cities, the reemergence of mainstream anti-Semitism, the third (or fourth, perhaps) American war in Iraq, racial riots in middle America, et cetera and ad nauseam.

All that was in the future just one year ago.

What is happening now is basically America’s version of “It’s a Wonderful Life.” The President of the United States — supported to an exceptional extent by an electorate both uncomprehending and untrusting of the outside world — is Clarence the Angel, and he’s showing us what the world would be like if we’d never been born, Unsurprisingly, Bedford Falls is now Pottersville, and it’s a terrible place. Unfortunately we do not get to revert to the tolerable if modest status quo at the end of the lesson: George Bailey will eventually have to shell the town and retake it street by street from Old Man Potter’s Spetsnaz.

But the larger point here is not what’s happening, because what’s happening is obvious. Things are falling apart. The point is how fast it’s come. It takes the blood and labor of generations to build a general peace, and that peace is sustained by two pillars: a common moral vision, and force majeure. We spent a quarter-century chipping away at the latter, and finally discarded the former, and now that peace is gone. All this was the work of decades.

Look back, again, to Labor Day weekend 2013, and understand one thing: its undoing was the work of mere months.

16 Mar 2014

A Fine Proposal

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Poland-Lithuania half groschen coin dated 1550 featuring the emblems of both nations.

Glenn Reynolds: What Can the U.S. Do If Russia Attacks Ukraine? Give Poland and Lithuania nukes.

Tsar Putin would not like that one little bit.

11 Mar 2014

Time to Apply Sanctions

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04 Mar 2014

How Ukraine Can Defend Herself

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Ukraine lacks a modern mechanized and air-supported military capable of taking on Russia but, as Dr. Waller notes, Ukraine does not necessarily have to do that. Russia’s economy and influence over Europe depends on energy sales to European countries. That energy is delivered by Russian pipelines crossing Ukraine.

Here’s what Ukraine should do:

1. Send loyalist forces and pipeline engineers to occupy all Gazprom pipeline compressor stations, valve stations, and regulator stations.

2. Close the valves of one or more major pipelines, to demonstrate capability.

3. Issue orders to shut down entire pipelines by closing the valves and disabling them if necessary.

4. Plant demolition charges along the pipelines in remote areas, to detonate in the event it is necessary to destroy them.

The results will be catastrophic for both Europe and Russia.

For Russia, it would show that Ukraine effectively controls the single largest source of Russia’s hard currency inflows.

When Putin sent forces into Ukraine, he caused Gazprom’s market value to tank $15 billion in just one day.

Think, then, of how powerful the mere suggestion of a Ukrainian cutoff of gas would be on Gazprom, the Russian state, and the oligarchs who own the most shares of the company.

The results would also cause Europe to pay Ukraine some of the respect that was lost when Kyiv surrendered its nuclear weapons back to Moscow more than two decades ago. Ukraine could finally show that it isn’t just Moscow that controls Europe’s natural gas supply.

Ukraine can safeguard what’s left of its natural integrity – and even force Putin to remove Russian forces from the country completely – by building the easy capability to destroy the pipelines completely, should Putin remain the aggressor. Meanwhile, Ukraine can show its restraint as a responsible actor in the midst of a severe national crisis, earning more serious attention to the increasingly finlandized Europe. (Keep in mind that senior political figures, such as former German socialist chancellor Gerhard Schröder, is on the Gazprom payroll.)

By showing that it can – and will – shut down or wreck Gazprom’s gas lines crisscrossing its territory, Ukraine will be defeating the enemy without fighting him at all.

04 Mar 2014

Tweet of the Day

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From Time Magazine’s Michael Crowley:

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