1. says

    Since it’s a new chapter, here’s another link to today’s Guardian (support them if you can!) Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Russia’s upper house grants Putin’s request to deploy troops outside Russia

    Russia’s upper house of parliament unanimously voted this afternoon to approve a request by Putin to deploy Russia’s armed forces abroad for what it described as a peacekeeping mission in two breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine [STOP USING THE LANGUAGE OF THEIR PROPAGANDA, MEDIA].

    The decision takes immediate effect, one of the lawmakers said as they discussed the motion.

  2. says

    HuffPo – “Pro-Kremlin TV Channel RT Should Be Taken Off Air Following Ukraine Invasion, Keir Starmer Says”:

    The channel, previously known as Russia Today, is freely available to British viewers.

    Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond even has his own chat show on the channel.

    But responding to Boris Johnson’s statement in the House of Commons following Russia’s invasion of the Donetsk and Luhansk regions of Ukraine, Starmer said the UK’s response should not be limited to economic sanctions.

    He said: “Putin’s campaign of misinformation should be tackled. Russia Today should be prevented from broadcasting its propaganda around the world.”

    The Labour leader pledged his party’s full support for the government’s response to the crisis.

    But in a clear reference to Russian donors to the Conservatives, said it was also time to tackle oligarchs using their wealth to try and influence UK politics.

    He said: “Russian money has been allowed to influence our politics. We have to admit that mistakes have been made, we have to rectify them.

    “This must be a time to put an end to oligarch impunity.”

    Starmer also said the west “must stay united” in the face of Russian aggression.

    He told the House of Commons: “Yesterday was a dark day for Europe.

    “We must all stand firm in our support for Ukraine. We support the freedom of her people and their right to determine their own future without the gun of an imperialist held to their head.

    “There can be no excuses for Russia’s actions. There is no justification for this aggression.”

    He said President Vladimir Putin fears democracy and knows that, given a choice, people will not choose to live under the rule of an “erratic and violent authoritarian”.

    Sir Keir added: “So we must remain united and true to our values across this House and with our Nato allies. We must show Putin that we will not be divided.”

  3. says

    CNN – “Supreme Court officially ends Trump’s recent legal fight to block document turnover to January 6 probe”:

    The Supreme Court said on Tuesday that it will not take up former President Donald Trump’s case challenging the disclosure of his White House documents to the House January 6 investigation, a formal conclusion to his unsuccessful bid to keep those records secret.

    The court had previously rejected Trump’s emergency request to block the National Archives from turning over the materials while the court considered whether to take up the case. The documents Trump was trying to block in court are already in the hands of the House Select Committee investigating January 6.

    Tuesday’s order — which included no further explanation of why the court was not taking up the case — means that the lower court decisions approving the release of the documents will stand.

    The National Archives continues to process Trump-era presidential and vice-presidential records requested by the House investigation….

  4. says

    Quite a thread from Christo Grozev of Bellingcat:

    A key prosecution witness in the criminal case against @navalny yesterday turned against the prosecutor and said the case is trumped up and he was forced to testify against the politician”under pressure”. On the second planned day of questioning, today, he didn’t appear in court.

    Another prosecution witness who was questioned yesterday – a former FBK associate who bow works for @RT_com – ranted at length about how much he hates @navalny and FBK – something that in any other court in the world would have led to his testimony being thrown out. [Well…]

    .@navalny now asked the court to find out what happened with the prosecution witness who spoke up about the pressure – as he yesterday complained he felt in danger.

    The judge ignores all of these and decides to “read the witness testimony from the case file” – exactly that testimony that the witness yesterday said was extracted under pressure and untrue.

    Apparently the witness is fine and has passed on evidence of the pressure on him to thir parties – to use as life insurance for himself…

    As the witness was missing, the prosecutor brings in the investigator who questioned him – exactly the one whom the witness accused of pressuring him. The prosecutor asks the investigator “did you pressure the witness?” (of course not)….

    Continues at the link.

  5. blf says

    SC@494 (previous page), That gentleman reminds me of my Deutsch teacher many many yonks ago: He could fluently speak English, German, Spanish, French, and Italian (as I now recall), and was simultaneously trying to learn both Russian and Chinese (Mandarin, I presume). A really nice person, widely liked. When the University I ultimately attended sent a professor to do in-persons interviews, he took the trouble to dress up in a nice suit.

    I didn’t do a great job of learning German — not his fault! — and ultimately wound up in France, with a penguin who speaks fluent Cheese, Gibberish, and (according to her) all other languages including those she’s yet to invent.

  6. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    All three Baltic states called for tough economic sanctions to be levied now against Russia in the margins of the Joint Expeditionary Force meeting – and called for more British and other Nato troops to deploy in their countries and around eastern Europe.

    Artis Pabriks, Latvia’s defence minister, was the most outspoken, calling for tough sanctions to be introduced now. This should “include everything which is economically painful” including banking, energy and oligarchs “must be personally targeted”- while Britain should “certainly” clean up the flow of dirty money in London.

    A former soldier who served unwillingly, he said, in Soviet forces, he said Putin could not be appeased and was weighing up whether to invade Ukraine based, in part, on the strength of the West’s response.

    If we are mild today, then instead of spilling money, we will spill blood, because he [Putin] will not stop?

    Kalle Lannet, the defence minister of Estonia, said “we need to orient more of these sanctions towards oligarchs” while Margiris Abukevicius, the deputy defence minister of Lithuania, called for a “doubling of the number” of Nato forces in eastern Europe.

    Nato currently operates four battle groups of around 1,500 in Estonia – led by the UK – Latvia, Lithuania and Poland, with the creation of similar forces being considered for Romania and Bulgaria. Both the US and the UK have already sent additional forces to the region.

  7. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    EU to sanction Russian individuals and entities over Ukraine

    European Union foreign ministers agreed on Tuesday to sanction 27 Russians and entities, as well banks, the defence sector and limiting Russian access to European capital markets, Reuters reports.

    All members of Russia’s Duma, parliament’s lower house, will be hit with EU sanctions, which typically involve travel bans and asset freezes.

    EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell told a news conference alongside France’s foreign minister at a meeting in Paris:

    This package of sanctions that has been approved by unanimity by the member states will hurt Russia, and it will hurt a lot.

  8. says

    Jessica Elgot, Guardian: “Tory MPs scratching their heads today at how UK went from being hardliner on Ukraine to having the some of the weakest sanctions to announce today, when reverse has been true of Germany. Something not quite lining up.”

    Is it possible that they’re dividing it up in this way intentionally so Germany can make its position clearly known?

  9. says

    Shayan Sardarizadeh:

    The Metropolitan Police has confirmed the case filed by anti-vaccine activists in December alleging crimes in relation to the Covid vaccine programme has no merits and no criminal investigation will be launched in relation to the allegations. Case 6029679/21 is now closed.

    The 6029679/21 “criminal case number” and non-existent police investigation has given rise to a conspiracy movement and led to a series of attempts by anti-vaxxers and sovereign citizens to shut down vaccination sites across the country in recent weeks.

  10. blf says

    @14, Nah, someone reminded teh Boris that Putin & Corrupt Cronies, UnLimited, owns both London (literally) and his party (figuratively), as well as supporting and encouraging his brexit lies.

  11. says

    Thanks to SC for the additional information posted here in the previous chapter of this thread:

    Lynna @ #435, Owens is one of the people most frequently cited by Herman Cain Awardees. The subreddit commenters call her Candeath.

    Lynna @ #441, I don’t know how many people know that Musk was born and raised in apartheid South Africa.

    Thanks for the Covid update, posted here:

    […] As of Wednesday, the nation is reporting 2,200 new COVID daily deaths on average. While this is lower than the 3,400-peak seen last winter, it’s still three times higher than the number of average fatalities recorded two months ago.

    Additionally, last winter, vaccines had only just started to roll out, children were not yet eligible and the conversation surrounding boosters was far off.

    With around 60% of Americans fully vaccinated during the most recent wave, daily deaths from omicron are still relatively high, which begs the question: Who is dying of COVID-19 when there is such strong vaccination coverage?

    Infectious disease doctors say it is still mainly unvaccinated people, most of whom are in their 30s and 40s [They don’t present data about age, so I don’t know if this is accurate. – SC] with no underlying health issues, who are dying.

    “The vast majority of patients — anywhere from 75% and greater — we’re seeing is primarily unvaccinated individuals who are getting COVID and wind up in the hospital severely ill and are currently dying,” [emphasis added by Lynna] Dr. Mahdee Sobhanie, an assistant professor of internal medicine and an infectious diseases physician at The Ohio State University, told ABC News.

    A small percentage of deaths are among fully vaccinated (and boosted) people who are either older or have preexisting conditions that increase their risk of dying….

    Referring back to this excellent comment that quotes Alexey Navalny:

    […] The Kremlin is making you poorer, not Washington. […] To fight for Russia, to save it, means to fight for the removal of Putin and his kleptocrats from power. But now it also means the banal “to fight for peace”.

  12. says

    SC @4, JFC. Putin is such a bully.

    In related news, and in reference to a discussion in the previous chapter of this thread: Why Putin didn’t invade Ukraine during the last U.S. administration

    Why didn’t Russia invade Ukraine during Trump’s term? Perhaps because Putin was so pleased to see Trump pursuing goals in line with Moscow’s agenda.

    After the National Archives confirmed on Friday that Donald Trump brought classified national security documents to Mar-a-Lago, the former president issued a long, rambling response, insisting the controversy was unimportant. But toward the end of the written tirade, [Trump] added an unrelated thought, seemingly in passing.

    Trump was apparently trying to argue that he didn’t have time to worry about tasks such as presidential records keeping. He was, Trump added, “too busy making sure Russia didn’t attack Ukraine.” [LOL]

    How subtle. […]

    There’s been plenty of related chatter of late in Republican circles. Putin targeted Georgia during George W. Bush’s tenure, Crimea during Barack Obama’s terms, and all of Ukraine after Joe Biden became president, but the Russian autocrat’s ambitions were restrained during Trump’s time in the White House. This, the right tells us, should be seen as proof of … something.

    National Review’s Rich Lowry made the case via Twitter last night, “The sheer unpredictably of Trump, his anger at being defied or disrespected, his willingness to take the occasional big risk (the Soleimani strike), all had to make Putin frightened or wary of him in a way that he simply isn’t of Joe Biden.”

    That’s certainly one way of looking at recent events, though it’s probably not the best way.

    It’s important to acknowledge what motivates the Russian leader. The Atlantic’s Anne Applebaum summarized matters nicely a few weeks ago:

    [Putin] wants to put so much strain on Western and democratic institutions, especially the European Union and NATO, that they break up. He wants to keep dictators in power wherever he can, in Syria, Venezuela, and Iran. He wants to undermine America, to shrink American influence, to remove the power of the democracy rhetoric that so many people in his part of the world still associate with America. He wants America itself to fail.

    It led The Washington Post’s Jennifer Rubin to add yesterday, “Trump’s foreign policy sought to do much of what Putin wants to achieve, including intimidating Ukraine by withholding vital defensive weapons.”

    Quite right.Putin wanted to undermine the NATO alliance, and Trump undermined the NATO alliance. Putin wanted to weaken the E.U., and Trump made little effort to express his disdain for the E.U. Putin wanted to weaken the U.S. political system, and Trump was unnervingly aggressive in trying to weaken the U.S. political system.

    Putin wanted to hurt Ukraine, and Trump launched an extortion scheme that threatened to hurt Ukraine.

    Why didn’t the Russian leader deploy troops into Ukraine during Trump’s term? Perhaps because Putin was so pleased with an American president who pursued goals in line with Moscow’s agenda.

    Had Putin launched an invasion, it risked upsetting the course he was already delighted to see. Why would the Russian leader get in the way of the progress Trump was already delivering?

  13. says

    Trump’s new social media venture is off to a Trumpian start

    Donald Trump new social media platform apparently has an app, but it doesn’t have an actual social media platform.

    After Donald Trump was forced from the major social-media platforms for violating their terms of service, the Associated Press reported in March 2021 that he would soon launch his own site. Jason Miller told Fox News at the time that the former president was poised to “completely redefine the game” with his new tech initiative.

    It was against this backdrop that Fox News reported in May 2021 that Trump and his team had launched a new “communications platform,” powered by a “digital ecosystem.”

    As regular readers probably recall, that wasn’t quite true: [Trump] had actually launched a rudimentary blog, utilizing technology that’s existed for many years. Less than a month after its launch, the website was permanently scrapped — due to lack of reader interest.

    The game had not been “completely redefined.”

    Undeterred, [Trump] and his team launched the Trump Media & Technology Group last fall, and it apparently has multimedia ambitions — it says it intends to compete with both Twitter and Netflix — and even hired a high-profile CEO: Former House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes resigned from Congress to lead the nascent company.

    […] Reuters reported [yesterday]:

    Donald Trump’s new social media venture, Truth Social, launched late on Sunday in Apple’s App Store, potentially marking the former president’s return to social media after he was banned from several platforms last year. The app was available shortly before midnight ET and was the top free app available on the App Store early Monday.

    The good news for the former president is that there appears to be quite a bit of interest in the new platform. The bad news is that yesterday was not a successful day for the Trump Media & Technology Group.

    For one thing, the rollout was plagued by systemic errors and breakdowns. Users not only couldn’t use the platform, they struggled to create accounts.

    For another, the Truth Social logo looks remarkably similar to the logo used by Trailar, a British green energy company, for the last few years. The British company’s head of marketing said it is currently “seeking legal advice to understand next steps and options available to protect our brand.”

    But even putting these relevant details aside, it’s not at all clear when people will actually start using Trump’s social network in earnest. The original plan was to have a fully functional platform by President’s Day. That was yesterday, and Team Trump obviously missed that target.

    Nunes said he expects a “fully operational” service by the end of March.

    In the meantime, there are ongoing questions about who and what are responsible for the Trump Media & Technology Group’s financing, which has reportedly drawn the interest of investigators at the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) and the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA).

  14. says

    Josh Marshall:

    There’s a flurry of commentary this morning arguing that new economic sanctions introduced by the EU, European states individually and perhaps soon the United States in response to yesterday’s events are too weak and show NATO and the EU are somehow going soft. I’d suggest some skepticism with these arguments and a bit more patience. History doesn’t have many one and done moments. Thinking every moment is Munich and Neville Chamberlain mostly makes people dumb. The U.S./EU/NATO powers here need to find a balance between having a response to yesterday’s events while yet keeping some deterrent in reserve for further escalation.

    Yesterday’s recognition of the eastern puppet statelets and the dispatch of Russian “peacekeepers” is both an invasion of Ukrainian territory and also not all that different from what’s happened for the last eight years. Those regions have been outside the central government’s control since 2014/15 and Russian army formations have operated there, just not as openly. I’m not saying these are the right decisions necessarily or what happens tomorrow or next week or anything else.

    Just … like I said, history has very few one and done moments. The big threatened invasion hasn’t happened yet. The real goal is still to prevent that. Russia’s approach here can fairly be regarded as a kind of Zeno’s Aggression, keep taking incremental steps which split the difference or fall just a bit short of what merits a full threatened response. Rinse and repeat. It’s complicated. But like I said, I wouldn’t jump to conclusions or be cranking up any appeasement moral dramas just yet.

  15. says


    If you watched Fox News last night, you learned that sweet and innocent Russia is trying to defend itself against merciless Ukraine by putting tanks inside Ukraine, while Joe Biden ignores the fact that Justin Trudeau has singlehandedly turned Canada into the most genocidal maniac dictatorship in the history of everything.

    Wonkette is here to tell you that the truth is a little bit different and that Fox News may have gotten things slightly wrong.

    Don’t faint.

    Vladimir Putin began the invasion of Ukraine last night by “recognizing” the “independence” from Ukraine of the regions of Luhansk and Donetsk in Ukraine’s southeast. Pro-Russia separatists control about a third of those regions. (Someone remarked on TV last night that this would be like if Joe Biden woke up this morning and just announced that Alberta is a country now. Take that, tyrant Trudeau.) As Politico Playbook notes this morning, the White House isn’t necessarily using the “invasion” terminology yet, but for specific reasons, because of sanctions that would be automatically triggered, etc. But it happened. Putin sent in “peacekeeping troops” to “help” those “nations” “defend themselves” from great devil Ukraine.

    Putin is clearly hoping that people see his piecemeal move and its lack of shock and awe and think maybe this was all much ado about nothing. It’s not.

    He’s not being coy about his true intentions, though. Weird assholes like Tulsi Gabbard might buy his arguments that this is about Russia’s “security,” but Putin’s not actually trying very hard to mask what is going on here. Yesterday, he called Ukraine a “colony.” He said the idea of Ukraine as a country is a “fiction” and that Ukraine was created by Russia. He whined that the former USSR satellites were allowed to leave in the first place, and unspooled fake history tales so ridiculous that the historian Anne Applebaum called it “so full of historical nonsense that I don’t even have the energy to correct it.” After Putin suggested that Lenin had invented Ukraine, Applebaum added that “even Lenin didn’t think that Lenin invented Ukraine.” [LOL]

    Whatever “peacekeeping” Putin is pretending to do, he wants a do-over on the humiliation Russia suffered at the end of the Cold War, and he wants the Soviet Union reconstituted in his own image. And he looked humiliated yesterday, like a ranting and raving hostage-taker nobody would be paying attention to if he didn’t currently have a gun pointed at all these hostages.

    As for the Biden administration response, they seem to be doing pretty well so far. President Joe Biden announced sanctions on the two separatist regions, but has so far held back on bigger sanctions packages. Republicans in Congress are starting to scream for great big sanctions GREAT BIG RIGHT NOW, and some Democrats are following suit. Playbook reported that Lindsey Graham said it’s time for Biden to “destroy the ruble and crush the Russian oil and gas sector.” (Lindsey is wilding out in general, like he does.) Liz Cheney is tweeting like FUCK ‘EM UP OOOOO WEEEEEEE CHENEY TIME!

    NATO seems to be more in sync than it’s been in a very long time, which is to the Biden administration’s credit. As an example, many are pointing to the fact that German Chancellor Olaf Scholz announced this morning that Germany is stopping the opening of the Nord Stream 2 pipeline between Russia and Germany. As CBS News notes, Biden had said if Putin invades Ukraine, ain’t gonna be no Nord Stream 2. Germany had been a bit more reticent in saying those words out loud.

    Press Secretary Jen Psaki chimed in this morning to emphasize that this was a result of the US and Germany working together: […]

    And how does Russia feel about that? Russia is MAD ABOUT IT. Seems Russia was hoping Germany would be more pliable, what with the whole pipeline situation and Europe’s energy needs.

    And in order to include one final fact in this post, the State Department has ordered US embassy staff in Ukraine to move to Poland. They still got jokes though: […]

    So those are some facts about where we are right now.

    And now Joe Biden, the president, is updating the nation on where things are. Take a moment and be grateful this isn’t a video of Donald Trump kissing Vladimir Putin’s ass. […]

    Images and video are available at the link.

  16. says

    Kyle Rittenhouse Gonna SUE Everyone Who Says He Killed Those People He Killed

    […] RITTENHOUSE: We’re looking at quite a few, politicians, celebrities, athletes, Whoopi Goldberg is on the list. She called me a murderer after I was acquitted by a jury of my peers. She went on to still say that. And there’s others, don’t forget about Cenk [Uygur] from the Young Turks. He called me a murderer before verdict and continues to call me a murderer. […]


    Kyle Rittenhouse got away with murder. Wait, let’s rephrase that so the lawyers don’t go crazy: Kyle Rittenhouse fatally shot two people, permanently injured a third, and a jury acquitted him of all charges. He’s a free man, but instead of celebrating his good fortune on the nation’s finest golf courses, all he can do is complain. […]

    He’s starting something called the “Media Accountability Project.” He’s not 17 anymore and will now assault his enemies with go-nowhere nuisance suits. Considering his established pattern of resolving conflict, this is arguably an improvement. […]

    This is an obvious cash grab, but it’s nonetheless amusing to see Rittenhouse whine about media accountability while on Tucker Carlson’s Fox News program. That Fox News still exists and Carlson himself isn’t wearing a big barrel held up by suspenders after personally losing multiple lawsuits should demonstrate how difficult it is to successfully sue people for defamation. Sarah Palin sued the New York Times and all she had to show for it was a potential COVID-19 outbreak. […]

    Former MSNBC anchor David Shuster tweeted: “The courts have long established that calling somebody a “murderer” is an opinion + a legal right, even after the person is found ‘not guilty.’ At that point, one can still call them a murderer, just not a ‘convicted murderer.’ Nobody has called Rittenhouse that. He has no case.”

    When the spoiled baby double killer threatened to sue President Joe Biden last year for defamation, University of Michigan law professor Barbara McQuade, a former US attorney, said, “By inserting himself into the civil unrest in Kenosha, Rittenhouse voluntarily became a limited purpose public figure, which subjects defamation claims against him to the actual malice standard.”

    Rittenhouse has also consistently chosen to remain in the public eye rather than going away. The Media Accountability Project is actively raising money from people who deserve to lose it. Profiting from your double homicide is perhaps the lowest a person can go, but unlike his victims, Rittenhouse has a full life ahead of him to get even worse.

  17. says

    Excerpt from a longer opinion posted by The New York Times’ editorial board:

    […] What [Putin’s] calculations have evidently missed is that, whatever their history with Russia, Ukrainians have demonstrated no interest in getting under Moscow’s roof again. And the more Mr. Putin bullies them, the more strongly Ukrainians come to identify as Ukrainians.

    Mr. Putin also seemed to overlook that Western democracies and the Western alliance, whatever their problems, remained capable of uniting against a common threat, and of joining together to threaten him and his country with debilitating economic and social damage. The White House has also done a good job of disclosing what its intelligence is gleaning about Russia’s tactics and intentions, repeatedly underscoring the cynicism of Russia’s claims.

    The showdown is far from over. There are more feints Russia could make short of sending tanks across the border, including the sort of trouble it’s creating in eastern Ukraine or cyberattacks, like the one Western officials believe it recently made against Ukrainian banks.

    Mr. Biden and his allies and partners have been right not to overreact, and to continuously offer Mr. Putin an exit strategy. High-level meetings have been scheduled; Mr. Biden has expressed readiness to meet Mr. Putin again; the leaders of Germany and France are in constant contact with him.

    A wary patience at this point is not the same as appeasement, of which the Ukrainian president, Volodymyr Zelensky, accused the West. Whatever Mr. Putin’s end game, his moves for now seek to prod and provoke Ukraine and its Western friends into just the kind of overreaction the hawks advocate. There is no justification for Russia’s recognition of the two comical “people’s republics,” an action as illegal as it is outrageous, but the cataclysm that would befall Ukraine and Europe in the event of a full invasion warrants continuing to give diplomacy a chance.

    New York Times link

  18. blf says

    Lynna@19, The Grauniad’s snark machine is on the case, Fake news alert! Donald Trump’s new social media app[hair furor’s fuming spoutatron] is a triumph:

    Truth hurts, everyone knows that. Nevertheless, I wasn’t expecting my experience with Truth Social[furious lieamatic], Donald Trump’s new social media venture[scam], to be quite so painful. After months of fanfare, the former president[squatter]’s new app, which is essentially a Twitter clone, was opened to the US public on Sunday night. Obviously, I signed up straight away — or at least I tried to.

    I spent 20 frustrating minutes attempting to create a new account and getting error message after error message. Eventually, I managed to sign up with the username @stormyd [giggles!], only to be told that I had been put on a waiting list due to massive demand. I was number 194,276 in line, apparently. Which, I’m sure, is a very precise number and not something they just pulled out of the air.

    It is unclear how many people were actually successful at getting on Truth Social[factfreeforfacists] — although the Guardian has reported that at least one Catholic priest managed to join. The fact that you, apparently, needed God on your side to secure an account wasn’t the only issue with the launch: the app has also run into potential legal trouble [Trailar (see @19) …]

    […] It’s not as if Trump put a technological genius in charge of Truth Social[autoputin]: Devin Nunes, head honcho at the app’s parent company, Trump Media & Technology Group (TMTG), may be most famous for the fact that he once unsuccessfully sued a cow.


    Nunes doesn’t just have beef with cows, by the way. He’s a big fan of suing anyone who says anything mean to him, and has launched defamation lawsuits against a number of journalists. […] The time has come to reopen the internet and allow for the free flow of ideas and expression without censorship, he proclaimed. Unless cows are involved, obviously. No free speech or free flow of ideas for cows! Or pesky journalists. Or anyone who says anything unflattering, if we’re being honest.

    Truth Social[always all teh fake new]’s marketing material talks about welcoming diverse opinions but the app’s terms and conditions are rather more restrictive. Under “prohibited activities”, the rules state that users of the site agree not to disparage, tarnish, or otherwise harm, in our opinion, us and/or the Site.


  19. blf says

    Good news, US supreme court rejects Dakota Access pipeline appeal:

    The US supreme court has rejected a case by the Dakota Access oil pipeline operator to avoid a legally mandated environmental review, in a major victory for tribes and environmentalists campaigning to permanently shut down the polluting energy project.

    Energy Transfer, the pipeline operator, had sought to overturn a legal victory won by the Standing Rock Sioux Tribe in 2020 that struck down a key federal permit that violated the National Environmental Policy Act (Nepa).

    On Tuesday the US supreme court rejected the company’s bid to challenge the 2020 ruling, which required the US army corps of engineers to conduct a comprehensive environmental impact statement (EIS).

    As a result, the lower court’s decision remains intact and the army corps must complete a review of the pipeline’s route underneath Lake Oahe […]. Indigenous communities rely on the lake, which they consider sacred, for drinking water and food.


    Congratulations to Standing Rock and the other First Nations!

  20. KG says

    When I speculated on the previous thread that maybe Putin is in poor health and so feels the need to invade Ukraine now, I didn’t realise (perhaps I should have), that such speculation is widespread. Parkinsonism is a favourite diagnosis, based on various combinations of his gait, facial immobility, and very quiet voice, although the linked article suggests the first of these (apparently his right arm does not swing as much as the left, or as would be normal) to his KGB training – something to do with being ready to shoot people at a moment’s notice. Either Parkinsonism or treatments for it can cause psychosis. Reassuring, eh?

  21. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    In his remarks, the US president warned that Putin has taken steps to invade Ukraine, adding that the Russian president “bizarrely” claimed that two Ukrainian territories were no longer apart of Ukraine.

    Biden said: “Who in the Lord’s name does Putin think gives him the right to declare new so-called countries?”

    “To put it simply, Russia just announced that it is carving out a big chunk of Ukraine,” said Biden, adding that Putin’s actions are a “flagrant violation of international law.”

    But Biden also announced that the US and its allies are still open to exploring a diplomatic option with Russia to avoid a “worst case scenario”: “The United States and our allies and partners remain open to diplomacy — if it’s serious.”

    [I don’t see how anyone who heard yesterday’s speech, or anything Putin and his propagandists have said for the past several years, could think it could possibly be serious on Putin’s part. He lies constantly, he cheats (ruined yet another Olympic event recently), everything he says is in bad faith, and he displays open contempt for other parties to negotiations.]

    Biden also announced that further sanctions will be imposed on Russia, targeting Russian banks and debts, among other things.

    Biden also noted that such sanctions will go beyond those implemented in 2014 when Russia invaded Crimea.

    While Biden said his administration is working to reduce the financial burden such sanctions will have on American households, especially on the price of gas domestically, Biden said: “Defending freedom will have cost for us as well, here at home…But as we do this, I’m going to take robust action to make sure the pain of our sanctions is targeted at the Russian economy, not ours.”

  22. says

    blf @24, thanks for that. That was great, and prompted laughter and giggles.

    In other news related to authoritarian WTF moments:

    […] President Putin of Russia said today that Russia has recognized the breakaway eastern statelets on the full territories they claim. That is substantially more Ukrainian territory than these statelets (and their Russian backers) currently control. […] the two statelets claim the entire territories of the official Ukrainian oblasts (provinces) of Luhansk and Donetsk. But they only control between a third and half of that territory. So if you follow the logic of the events of the last 48 hours, Ukraine is currently occupying lots of land belonging to these two purported republics Russia now recognizes. And Russia could reconquer that territory on their behalf as a defensive action on their behalf. Because, you know, they just want to help out. […]

  23. says

    Joe Manchin has latched onto Republican lies about crack pipes, because of course he has

    Republicans responded to a Biden administration harm reduction initiative with a huge blast on the racist dog whistle, and as a result, the program may be gutted. Legislation now being considered in Congress would prevent the harm reduction initiative from doing the important, lifesaving work of providing clean syringes to drug users to slow the spread of diseases like HIV and hepatitis C.

    In two months, a New York City overdose prevention center averted 134 overdoses. Such centers also prevent the spread of disease by offering clean syringes and other assistance in staying safe. Nationwide, more than 100,000 people died of overdoses in the 12 months ending April 2021, so you’d think that the government would want to get involved in any program with a proven record of success. At least, you’d think that if you didn’t pay attention to Republicans these days.

    Republicans responded to the Biden administration’s announcement of $30 million in grants for harm reduction programs by screaming about the government supposedly giving out crack pipes to addicts. The Biden administration has said it was not going to fund pipes for smoking drugs, and there’s no evidence that it was, but even if that was the plan—which actually would have been a solid, evidence-based policy!—it’s beside the point. The vast majority of drug overdose deaths in the U.S. these days are from fentanyl, with less than half as many cocaine overdoses, many of which also involve fentanyl. And crack is a small fraction of cocaine use.

    Crack was simply not going to be the focus of the harm reduction program. But crack is associated in the public imagination with urban Black drug users, so it was a much scarier thing for Republicans to scream about than the reality. It’s pretty hard to fearmonger over the statement, “the Biden administration is going to avert overdoses with naloxone and prevent the spread of HIV and hepatitis C with clean syringes,” but, “the Biden administration is going to hand out free crack pipes”? That brings up a very specific racial panic from the 1980s and 1990s.

    The dishonest Republican response to the program could have a direct legislative effect, because Sen. Joe Manchin has joined with Sen. Marco Rubio to advance a bill barring federal funding for any drug paraphernalia, including those clean syringes. Manchin’s move comes despite his praise in 2016 of an initiative that included funding for the operation of needle exchange programs, though not the syringes themselves. He now wants to subject the $30 million in harm reduction grants, which comes from the American Rescue Plan, to that restriction as well.

    “Manchin was never going to save us, but now it looks like he is going to bury us,” Joe Solomon, a founder of an organization that ran a syringe exchange in Charleston, West Virginia, until it was barred from doing so, told The New York Times.

    As we know, Manchin is a total sucker for even the most ridiculous claims about drug use, as well as for weak, one-sided bipartisanship. But to be fair to him, he’s incurious and blinkered by privilege, and the media encourages his political pathologies […]

  24. Pierce R. Butler says

    Lynna @ # 412 in the previous thread: Kremlin TV is repeatedly claiming that there is a genocide in the Donbas.

    Seems to me we should ditch the Poland/Finland comparisons and go straight to Sudetenland…

  25. says

    Sahil Kapur:

    Trump says Putin’s military move on Ukraine is “genius.”

    “Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’ And he’s gonna go in and be a peacekeeper… We could use that on our southern border.”

    “Here’s a guy who’s very savvy.”…

    Partial transcript and link at the link.

  26. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Canada’s Foreign Affairs Minister Mélanie Joly said today that Canada will be imposing sanctions on Russia, tweeting today:

    I have directed my Deputy Minister to summon the Russia Ambassador to explain Russia’s continued aggression, violation of international law, and disregard for Ukrainian sovereignty. Canada stands with Ukraine.

    We will be imposing severe sanctions in response.

  27. says

    Update to Lynna’s #439 on the previous thread – Vice – “Alleged Portland Gunman Wanted to Shoot ‘Commies and Antifa’: Report.”

    The man who allegedly opened fire on racial justice protesters in Portland over the weekend, killing one and injuring others, has been identified by local activists and news media as a 43-year-old machinist who regularly ranted about “wanting to go shoot commies and antifa.”

    Alleged gunman Benjamin Jeffrey Smith had lived in northeast Portland for about a decade. His former roommate told local news outlets The Oregonian and Oregon Public Broadcasting that he’d become increasingly “radicalized” over the Trump years, and recalled hearing him yelling “racial slurs in his room and deriding women.”

    Smith’s former roommate Kristen Christenson told Oregon Public Broadcasting that Smith had a large arsenal, including rifles and handguns, and that he occasionally repaired firearms for other people.

    “He talked about wanting to go shoot commies and antifa all the friggin‘ time,” Christenson told OPB. “He was just a sad angry dude. He talked about wanting to do this for a while. He was angry at the mask mandates, he was angry at the damned liberals.”…

    More at the link.

  28. says

    Great piece by Luke Harding in the Guardian – “‘We’re not afraid of Putin’: defiance on the streets of Kyiv.”

    “We will defend our country,” one activist, Serhiy Ikonnikov, said, standing outside the Russian embassy, a grey neo-classical building topped with razor wire. He added: “In the history of war there is the question of motivation. The Russian army doesn’t have it. We do. We will defend our country, our homes and our families. If Putin invades, lots of Russian blood will be spilled.”

    Was he afraid? “A bit. Not for myself but for my relatives,” he said. Next to him, protesters held signs saying: “Donbas is Ukrainian”; “We will never retreat”; and “Evil empire”.

    Ikonnikov, 23, added: “There’s also some kind of excitement. If Putin invades us it will be the end of Russia. It will be the start of a wonderful new Europe, and of Ukraine as a member of that Europe.”

  29. says

    Also in Vice – “The Insights Psychedelics Give You Aren’t Always True”:

    …But all insights, true and false, should lead to more examination after the Aha moment—whether it occurs on psychedelics or not. “It goes along with an idea that it’s important to have epistemic humility,” Yaden said, meaning we should be humble about our knowledge and what we think we know. “The noetic quality doesn’t excuse not having epistemic humility.”…

  30. says

    SC @35, well that was predicable. Sill, I am sorry to hear it.

    SC @33, that’s disgusting.

    Pierce @32, good point.

    Some humor as a followup, of sorts, to SC’s comment 33: “Republicans Support Democracy in Ukraine as Long as It Does Not Spread to U.S.”

    In a powerful statement, Republican congressional leaders said that they strongly support democracy in Ukraine, as long as it does not spread to the United States.

    “Vladimir Putin should make no mistake,” the G.O.P. statement read. “We Republicans will do everything in our power to preserve democracy in Ukraine, and to keep it over there.”

    Drawing a line in the sand, the Republicans argued that democracy “must be allowed to thrive within the territorial borders of Ukraine and should not be permitted to leak out into Florida, Texas, or Georgia.”

    Calling Russian aggression “a slippery slope,” the G.O.P. declared, “If Vladimir Putin is allowed to undermine democratic norms in Ukraine, he will be emboldened to attack our proud American traditions of gerrymandering, disenfranchisement, and voter suppression.”

    New Yorker link

  31. says

    Robert Evans re #35:

    The Portland mass shooter has finally been charged with murder.

    The protester who returned fire and saved god knows how many lives has had all charges against him dropped. Prosecutors say they reviewed the video. This was justified self defense and he carried his weapon legally.

    From the article @ #35: “In a statement Sunday, the Portland Police Bureau described the shooting as a result of a ‘confrontation between an armed homeowner and armed protesters’…” Of course it did.

  32. says

    Alec Luhn:

    Ruble down 3%
    Russian stock market down 15%
    $11bn gas pipeline dead in the water
    New sanctions on the way
    Russian parliament:…

    Video at the link. As I’ve said before, Annushka hasn’t bought the sunflower oil, Annushka hasn’t spilled the sunflower oil, there’s actually no Annushka, and nothing is foreordained. You can say no.

  33. blf says

    “Vaxman”, the primary individual behind the site, reports they, “an elderly gentleman”, has Covid-19, Station Break: Vaxman has COVID. :( — “This Omicron variant is NOT a cold! Over the past four days I’ve been more sick than I’ve ever been. It’s definitely the worst sore throat I’ve ever had. This virus sucks. I don’t know why they all say it’s “mild”; it’s anything but mild. […]” They are vaccinated (presumably fully with booster).

  34. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation confirmed that Ukrainian banks were hit by a DDOS attack on Wednesday, following a series of cyber attacks last week, reported Reuters.

    Many Ukrainian state websites, such as the government and foreign ministry home page, were not accessible today.

    Ukrainian authorities also confirmed that they had seen online warnings this week about hackers planning major attacks on government agencies, banks, and other sectors.

    This story is developing- stay tuned.

    EU to unveil toughest sanctions on Russians yet

    Jennifer Rankin

    Russia’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, the commanders-in-chief of the Russian Air Force and Black Sea Fleet, leading state “propagandists” – as well as 351 Duma deputies – are expected to be targeted in EU sanctions announced later on Wednesday.

    The measures, which have to be signed off by EU foreign ministers, would go further than those announced by the US – and well beyond Boris Johnson’s Russia sanctions.

    If approved, the EU will impose asset freezes and travel bans on 23 people, three banks and a notorious internet ‘troll factory’ in St Petersburg, in response to Russian president Vladimir Putin’s decision to recognise the self-proclaimed republics in Donetsk and Luhansk as independent states. The bloc is also expected to sanction 351 members of the Russian state Duma that voted for recognition of the two territories.

    The Russian government will also see further restrictions on its ability to raise money on EU financial markets. EU officials are also drawing up measures to ban trade between the two Russian-controlled territories in eastern Ukraine, mirroring earlier sanctions on Crimea in 2014.

    “Everyone seems on board for the adoption of sanctions,” an EU diplomat said. EU capitals have a few hours to send comments, with ministers expected to approve the sanctions at 3pm CET.

    At the top of the sanctions list is Shoigu, because he is “ultimately responsible for any military action against Ukraine”, according to the draft list seen by the Guardian. He is joined by Anton Vaino, Putin’s chief of staff, who “plays an active role in decision making”, as well as Igor Osipov, commander-in-chief of the Black Sea Fleet, and Sergei Surovikin, commander-in-chief of Russian Aerospace Forces.

    Other top officials include deputy prime minister and chair of state-owned VTB bank, Dmitry Grigorenko, and Igor Shuvalov, chair of Russia’s state development bank, VEB, which plays an important role in funding its defence sector.

    The EU is also targeting Russian “propagandists”, including foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova, and the head of the RT channel, Margarita Simonyan, both of whom are known for their strident anti-western rhetoric. Vladimir Solovyov, the pro-Kremlin presenter of the Russia One channel, also makes the list.

    Other notable figures include Yevgeniy Prigozhin. Known as Putin’s chef, Prigozhin finances the Internet Research Agency (IRA), which has also been added to the EU sanctions list. Based in St Petersburg, the IRA is better known as the “troll factory” , where bloggers work around the clock to flood the global internet with pro-Putin and anti-western views. According to US sanctions, Prigozhin is also believed to be the “manager and financier” of the Wagner mercenary group, which is already subject to EU sanctions for its role in sending forces into conflicts in west Africa.

    Prigozhin’s mother and wife, who own companies with links to him, are also on the draft list.

    The sanctioned banks are Bank Rossiya, believed by EU and western officials to be the personal bank for Putin and many of his officials, as well as Promsvyazbank and Vnesheconombank, both considered by EU officials to be instructed personally by the Russian president, with a key role in financing Russia’s defence sector.

    EU leaders have signalled further sanctions could follow in the coming days. “Expect some more discussions on the broader big bang sanctions package later this week,” said the EU official.

  35. says

    Update to #47, from the liveblog:

    The EU has now adopted its first sanctions package in response to “the decision by the Russian Federation to proceed with the recognition of the non-government controlled areas of the Donetsk and Luhansk oblasts of Ukraine as independent entities, and the subsequent decision to send Russian troops into these areas.”

    Josep Borrell, High Representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, said:

    Such decisions are illegal and unacceptable. They violate international law, Ukraine’s territorial integrity and sovereignty, Russia’s own international commitments and further escalate the crisis.

  36. says

    Jim Sciutto, CNN:

    To my fellow Americans now praising Putin, please remember – 1 – this is Viktor Yushchenko, poisoned with dioxin in 2004 as he ran against the pro-Russian candidate for president.

    These are some of the dozens of Ukrainians shot and killed as they protested in the Maidan against the corrupt Russian-backed president Viktor Yanukovych

    These are the so-called “little green men”, Russian soldiers with their insignia removed, who took over sovereign Ukrainian territory in Crimea in 2014 in Russia’s first invasion of Ukraine.

    This is what remained of MH17 after a Russian-supplied missile fired from separatist-controlled territory shot it down in July 2014. All 298 passengers and crew including numerous children were killed.

    This is one of many election sites burned down by pro-Russian forces in Eastern Ukraine in 2014. Russia has a habit of interfering in elections it doesn’t think it will win fairly.

    To the party of “elections have consequences”, this is Kyiv, capital of a Ukraine that has twice-in-a-row elected president seeking closer relations with the West and more, not less, independence from Moscow

    There is far more. Alexander Litvinenko, poisoned to death with radioactive polonium in a London hotel cafe by two Russian operatives, one of whom went on to serve in the Russian Duma. He’s still serving there.

    Photos at the link.

  37. says

    On Russia, Republicans push Biden to do what he’s already doing

    Almost immediately after Russia’s Vladimir Putin began his invasion of eastern Ukraine, a variety of prominent Republicans did what everyone expected them to do: They blamed the leaders of their own country.

    Sen. Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, for example, said Putin acted because U.S. enemies “sense weakness” from President Joe Biden. Sen. Marsha Blackburn of Tennessee pushed a similar line.

    Sen. Ted Cruz said the Biden administration is “directly responsible” for the crisis in Ukraine “to an enormous extent.” The Texan also attributed Russian aggression, at least in part, to the Democratic president ending the war in Afghanistan — as if Putin and the Kremlin would have entirely different ambitions in Ukraine if only Biden still had thousands of American troops in and around Kabul.

    […] the entire House GOP leadership, along with the top Republicans from the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees, issued a joint statement yesterday that at least had a sober veneer.

    “Vladimir Putin’s decision to launch a renewed invasion of Ukraine is reprehensible,” the House Republicans began, which was a good start that distanced the lawmakers from Donald Trump’s position.

    Alas, the GOP statement went downhill from there, accusing the White House of “appeasement.” The House members added:

    “The U.S. and our allies must now make the Putin regime pay for this aggression. Congress should compel President Biden to take the tough steps his administration has opposed thus far, we must permanently end Nord Stream 2, implement secondary sanctions on Russian financial institutions, and impose crippling penalties on the industries which the Russian military relies on to make war. Moreover, as House Republicans have been saying for a year, President Biden must finally promote U.S. energy development and help the United States become Europe’s energy partner of choice.”

    What stood out was the degree to which Republicans want Biden to do what Biden is largely already doing. The Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline is effectively dead; the U.S. president is imposing fresh sanctions and making plans to impose more; and the White House has scrambled to arrange alternate energy resources for our European allies.

    In other words, House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and his team tried to sound a constructive note. Instead of just stomping their feet and pointing fingers, these House Republicans made a series of specific policy recommendations they’d like to see the Biden administration adopt in the midst of the international crisis.

    And that would’ve been far more compelling if the Democratic president hadn’t already taken nearly identical steps.

    Are Republicans really that stupid? Or are they really that ill-informed?

  38. says

    Pentagon Approves 700 National Guard Troops Ahead Of Potential Convoy Protests

    The Defense Department’s getting ready for a potential trucker blockade a la Canada in the coming days, with security plans to be set in motion on Saturday ahead of Biden’s State of the Union address on March 1.

    In addition to the 700 National Guard members, 50 large tactical vehicles will be used, the DC National Guard said on Tuesday.

    Part of the safety mission is slated to continue until March 8, a week after Biden’s SOTU speech.

    Maryland State Police troopers are already stationed at the staging areas, the department told FOX 5 on Tuesday.

    White House press secretary Jen Psaki told reporters yesterday that Biden officials are “monitoring this closely.”

  39. says

    Followup to SC @53:

    […] Thirty years since Thomas’ confirmation, the court has become what he and Ginni have been plotting. It’s not even a secret—the two brazenly admit to any and every conservative audience who invites them that their attack on democracy is a joint effort, and that Thomas’ role on the Supreme Court is an explicitly political one

    Back in 2011, in a speech to the Federalist Society, Thomas talked about “my bride,” defending her political efforts. She worked “24/7 every day in defense of liberty,” he said, adding, “We are equally yoked, and we love being with each other because we love the same things.”[…]

    It’s Clarence and Ginni Thomas’ Supreme Court now, and that’s a danger to democracy

  40. says

    Moscow Times – “Coronavirus in Russia: The Latest News Feb. 23”:

    Russia has confirmed 15,795,570 cases of coronavirus and 347,816 deaths, according to the national coronavirus information center. Russia’s total excess fatality count since the start of the coronavirus pandemic is at least 995,000. Under half the population is fully vaccinated.

    Russia reported 137,642 new Covid-19 infections and 785 deaths over the last 24 hours….

    As I said in the previous chapter, Russia is just now coming down from its Omicron peak, and deaths are increasing. They’re probably actually losing around a thousand people a day at this point, and that number will continue to rise.

  41. says

    We’d like to begin this post by apologizing. In a piece yesterday, we said that Fox News character Pete Hegseth had said something that was not stupid and was totally normal about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Well last night Hegseth said Vladimir Putin is doing this because “we’re running around talking about genders and reparations and all of this.” We will never again make the mistake of taking something Pete Hegseth said out of context and calling it “not stupid.”

    Anyway. Some places on Fox news are desperately trying to rewrite history and make it so Donald Trump was the one who was tough on Russia — as if he didn’t contradict them on that yesterday. Others are just doing straight-up Russian propaganda. Which brings us to Tucker Carlson, obviously.

    Russian media is reportedly running a lot of Tucker clips these days, and it’s not hard to see why. (They’re loving LOTS of Fox News! They loved this clip of Mike Pompeo on Fox News!) His adoring coverage of Russia and its war on Ukraine is like the North Korean state media and Pravda doing it bareback.

    But last night took it to a whole new level, we think. Tucker was really mad, or his TV character was, that Americans hate Vladimir Putin. He is furious that Americans don’t love this sworn enemy of America the way he and Donald Trump love this sworn enemy of America. [video available at the link]

    TUCKER: Since the day that Donald Trump became president, Democrats in Washington have told you you have a patriotic duty to hate Vladimir Putin. It’s not a suggestion, it’s a mandate. Anything less than hatred for Putin is treason.

    Many Americans have obeyed this directive. They now dutifully hate Vladimir Putin. Maybe you’re one of them. Hating Putin has become the central purpose of America’s foreign policy, it’s the main thing that we talk about. Entire cable channels are now devoted to it. Very soon, that hatred of Vladimir Putin could bring the United States into a conflict in Eastern Europe.

    Before that happens, it might be worth asking yourselves since it is getting really serious, what is this really about? Why do I hate Putin so much?

    Because he’s an authoritarian with Little Man Syndrome who runs a failed petrostate with a government that kills and/or disappears journalists, political dissidents, LGBTQ+ people and any others guilty of wrongthink, and that fucks with fair democratic elections in countries both next to it and also thousands of miles away in order to undermine the very idea of democracy. Because it was almost certainly his attack on the 2016 American election that made the difference in installing that un-American shitheel Trump, who literally incited a terrorist attack against America to prevent the certification of his re-election loss.

    You know, just to scratch the surface.

    Oh wait, Tucker wanted to answer the questions, he didn’t want us to answer the questions.

    TUCKER: Has Putin ever called me a racist?

    In Tucker’s world and the world of his white nationalist viewers, we guess the greatest crime you can commit is to call them racist. Putin didn’t do that.

    TUCKER: Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years?

    Sounds to us like Tucker is saying somebody “manufactured” the pandemic.

    TUCKER: Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination?

    We don’t know if Putin is covertly funding any American white supremacists or their media, so it’s hard to answer that question.

    TUCKER: Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?

    These are fair questions …

    You know, the typical concerns of the 80-year-old white racist stuck to the couch cushions watching Tucker.

    TUCKER: and the answer to all of them is “no.” Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that. So, why does permanent Washington hate him so much?

    Asked and answered.

    Just after that, Tucker called the Russian invasion of Ukraine a “border dispute” and then told more verifiable lies about Joe Biden’s family connections with Ukraine and lies that Ukraine isn’t a democracy. His brain is running on a loop with that shit lately.

    What’s clear here, though, as GOP Rep. Adam Kinzinger points out, is that in all Tucker’s pointed questions, he’s pushing his gross viewers to embrace Putin and also turn against their fellow Americans. […] It’s got the cancel culture white grievance whining and it’s got the critical race theory white grievance whining and the COVID-denying white grievance whining.

    He’s just mashing at all their buttons and telling them one man can save them from the real America they hate so much, if they’ll just pray this prayer and give their heart to that Russian man. […]

    It’s really fucking sick.

    And by the way, he’s tilling in fertile territory, as new polling shows Republicans now view Putin slightly more favorably than they view some Democratic leaders, including President Joe Biden. But average Republicans aren’t in love with Putin yet.

    Guess Tucker feels it’s his remit to change that.

  42. says

    Good news: Local Georgia Sheriffs No Longer Foot Soldiers For ICE

    Last year, Keybo Taylor, the newly elected sheriff of Gwinnett County, Georgia, announced that he was ending participation in what’s known as the 287(g) program. Craig Owens, the new sheriff in Cobb County, Georgia, did the same.

    “Day One, I said I was going to do away with that program,” Taylor said. “I felt that program was more detrimental to the safety and health of Gwinnett County than any benefits it may have brought.”

    Under the 287(g) program, local law enforcement served as an extension of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. They ran immigration checks on people booked into county jails, sharing that information with US customs officials. This could potentially result in deportation regardless of whether a crime was committed.

    Critics of the 287(g) program claimed it was counter-productive. Undocumented immigrants were discouraged from contacting the police when they had information about a crime or even when they were actual victims of a crime. The risk was too great, and the numbers backed this up.

    Mother Jones reported recently that the Gwinnett Sheriff’s office, led at the time by Butch Conway, ran immigration checks over the past decade on more than 20,000 immigrants, and according to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the department “had more 287(g)-related referrals in 2019 and 2020 than any other participating law enforcement agency, accounting for 25 percent of almost 17,000 ICE interactions through the program in 2020.” [video available at the link]

    Both Taylor and Owens are the first Black sheriffs elected in diversifying Gwinnett and Cobb counties. Specifically, Gwinnett’s Hispanic population has doubled in the past 20 years. About 25 percent of Gwinnett’s one million residents are foreign-born, and about 16 percent of Cobb’s 760,000 residents were born outside the US.

    Conway, the former Gwinnett sheriff, insists ending 287(g) is a mistake and the new (Black) sheriffs are “letting criminals back in the community to do more harm.” One of these “criminals” was Jorge Alejandro Pineda, who was arrested for driving without a license in 2009 and deported to Mexico. Maybe you’re a stickler for unlicensed driving but the program led to an overall fear of law enforcement among immigrant communities that was chilling. Gigi Pedraza, executive director of the Latino Community Foundation of Georgia, recalled seeing mold and raccoons in apartments that residents wouldn’t report to their landlords in fear of being deported.

    “Families are just so afraid of being separated, they’d rather not call,” Pedraza said.

    Lena Graber, a senior staff attorney at the Immigrant Legal Resource Center, told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that wherever the 287(g) program exists, there are more low-level arrests of Latinos in particular. Conway boasted that one of 287(g)’s “benefits” was keeping fewer people in jail. He didn’t quite connect the dots that this “benefit” was the result of helping ICE deport more people.

    More than 140 sheriffs still participate in the program, and according to Naureen Shah, the senior legislative counsel on immigrants’ rights at the American Civil Liberties Union, activists are urging President Joe Biden to follow through on his campaign promise to end the contracts ICE signed with local law enforcement during Donald Trump’s administration.

    Certain Democrats might instinctively worry that ditching 287(g) only helps promote the GOP’s narrative that Democrats are soft on crime, and these “woke” progressive policies will only result in electoral defeat. However, a year later, Gwinnett and Cobb County aren’t on fire, and roving gangs of undocumented immigrants aren’t murdering suburbanites in their beds.

    Taylor says the 287(g) program cost the Gwinnett sheriff’s office almost $3 million a year to run. He’d rather spend some of that money battling human trafficking and gangs.

    Georgia Latino Alliance for Human Rights President and co-founder Adelina Nicholls said her group had protested the 287(g) program for years. Republican sheriffs like Conway were unmoved, but Taylor and Owens both promised during their campaigns to end 287(g).

    “This work wouldn’t be possible without the support of the African-American communities and all our brothers and sisters that helped us in this campaign,” Nicholls said.

    When Owens announced the end of the 287(g) program, he told the community “we’re going to work hard to restore the trust and your faith in the Cobb County Sheriff Office.” Nicholls concedes that rebuilding trust takes time, but right now, she says people feel a little safer in their skins when they go to work and pick up their kids from schools. “I think at least we are able to breathe better,” she says.

  43. says

    Good news.

    The U.S. women’s soccer team’s settlement is a huge victory on pay equality

    Since 1991, the U.S. women’s soccer team (USWNT) has won four World Cups and four Olympic gold medals. The men’s team has not won any, and did not even qualify for the 2018 World Cup or the past three Olympics. Yet, for years, the women’s team has had to fight for equal rates of pay.

    That will now change, thanks to a $24 million settlement reached between the players and the U.S. Soccer Federation, marking the end of a gender discrimination case that has reverberations across the sport — and beyond. U.S. Soccer agreed to pay $22 million to the 28 players who filed the suit and a further $2 million to a charitable fund for girls’ and women’s soccer. Most significantly, it promised to pay men and women at an equal rate going forward, including in lucrative World Cup bonuses.

    The settlement is a major victory for players, who had to balance pursuing a high-profile and often acrimonious case with maintaining their heroics on the pitch. The lawsuit, filed on International Women’s Day in 2019, argued that female players had to be far more successful than their male counterparts to earn similar wages, though their games outperformed the men’s team in revenue. For example, thanks to differences in bonus structures, making a World Cup team would earn a men’s player $67,000 — and a women’s player just $37,500.

    […] The case has been rife with setbacks and controversy. In March 2020, a legal filing by U.S. Soccer suggested that women’s players “do not perform equal work requiring equal skill [and] effort.” Then-USWNT captain Megan Rapinoe lambasted the language as full of “blatant misogyny and sexism,”and the ensuing backlash led to the resignation of U.S. Soccer president Carlos Cordeiro.

    A federal judge effectively dismissed the equal pay case that May. But the women appealed last July, gaining support from the men’s team and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. […]

  44. says

    Also from the Moscow Times, a piece from their archives – “On This Day 2002: Tracing Russia’s Historical Ideologies”:

    …The crash of Soviet ideology, the desperate search for a national idea that marked the Yeltsin years, and more recent attempts by President Vladimir Putin to restore the abandoned symbols of national statehood offer fertile ground for reflection on Russia’s ideology, national identity, cultural myths and historic parallels.

    One of Russia’s most prominent cultural historians, Andrei Zorin, has seized this opportunity. His Russian-language book, Feeding the Two Headed Eagle: Literature and State Ideology in Russia in the Late 18th to Early 19th Centuries, is an example of how history can tell more about the modern world than any political analysis. Zorin traces the origins of the cultural myths that have sustained Russia’s ideology for more than two centuries. He shows how the notions of Russia’s sacredness, the conspiracy of Jews, Freemasons and the West as a source of evil and corruption emerged from the official literature and poetry of the time.

    Zorin commences his exploration with Catherine the Great’s famous “Greek project,” designed to assert Russia’s role and its cultural supremacy in Europe by demonstrating her direct link to ancient Greece. As Zorin shows, the trick of the project was in equating Christian Byzantium with ancient Athens. Having received its Christian religion from Greece, the argument went, Russia was entitled to be considered the only legitimate heir to Greek civilization — before and above its Western neighbors.

    Russia never conquered Greece, but its expansion into Crimea, a land rich in ancient monuments and Greek sites, was seen as a halfway stop on the way to the ancient civilization. The myth of Crimea as Russia’s own Arcadia, a paradise on earth, survived throughout the Soviet period. And the loss of Crimea to Ukraine in 1991 was — and still is — lamented by the nation more than the loss of any other territory.

    The reign of Catherine the Great also started the concept of a Western enemy conspiring against Russian interests — a concept still with us today. Western Europe, seen as a model of civilization by Peter the Great, was turned, in the ideology of the late 18th century, into a reincarnation of evil, a source of secret societies plotting against Russia. The honorary role of Russia’s No. 1 enemy fell to France, but today, the mantle has been passed to the United States.

    Looking for enemies and traitors inside and outside Russia has been a tested and reliable way to unite the nation and spark a wave of patriotism. Zorin shows how this need to unite the nation ahead of a patriotic war sealed the fate of Mikhail Speransky, a prominent statesman, reformer and right-hand man to Alexander I, who was abruptly exiled by the tsar in 1812, the year Russia entered the war against France.

    The son of a village priest and much hated by the aristocracy, Speransky emerges from contemporary accounts as a traitor who crept to the very top of power, a messenger of dark forces, a French spy corrupted by Jews, a member of a secretive masonic organization aspiring to the Polish crown. Speransky was sacrificed in the name of national unity, and his exile was “celebrated as the first victory over the French.”

    The mechanisms for creating “enemies of the people,” first tried on Speransky, have been reused many times since, and not only by Stalin. This book is subtle and intelligent. It does not draw any explicit parallels between the times of Catherine the Great or Nicholas I and today’s Russia — Zorin is too good a historian for that. But the parallels come across on their own simply because Russia continues to provide examples of ideological models described by the historian.

    I believe the 2014 translation By Fables Alone (which unfortunately is pretty expensive) is this book, though I don’t really get why they changed the title from the memorable and evocative Feeding the Two Headed Eagle. Also, how tragic that people can refer to President Vladimir Putin in 2002 and in 2022.

  45. blf says

    Hundreds of US geographic sites to be renamed to eliminate offensive words:

    A task force will prioritize a list of replacement names and present them to the federal Board on Geographic Names later this year


    US Interior secretary Deb Haaland in November formally declared the term “squaw” derogatory and initiated a process to remove the word from use by the federal government and to replace other existing derogatory place names.

    Haaland […] said in a statement Tuesday that words matter, particularly as the agency works to make the nation’s public lands and waters accessible and welcoming to people of all backgrounds.

    [… T]he first action by a task force made up of officials from several federal departments was to finalize a decision to replace a full spelling of the derogatory term with “sq–⁠–” for all official related communications.

    It also will be up to the task force to prioritize the list of replacement names and make recommendations to the Board on Geographic Names before it meets later this year.

    As part of the process, the US Geological Survey came up with five candidate names for each geographic feature. The list includes more than 660 sites in New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, California, Idaho and many other states.

    In the 1960s and 1970s, the Board on Geographic Names took action to eliminate the use of derogatory terms related to Black and Japanese people. […]

    The board also voted in 2008 to change the name of a prominent Phoenix mountain from Squaw Peak to Piestewa Peak to honor Army Spc. Lori Piestewa, the first Indigenous American woman to die in combat while serving in the US military.

    The Arizona Senate recently passed a memorial asking the federal government to replace the names of geographic features in the Grand Canyon region with Indigenous American names […]

  46. says

    From the Guardian liveblog:

    Two separate convoys of military equipment that did not have visible insignia were seen moving towards the city of Donetsk located in eastern Ukraine, reported Reuters.

    One convoy included nine tanks as well as n infantry fighting vehicle. The other convoy included trucks and fuel tanks, according to a reporter on the ground.

    Russia moved nearly 100 percent of troops into invasion-ready position, says senior US defense official

    More on previous reporting about US intelligence warning Ukraine of an imminent attack: A senior US defense official has said that Russia has moved nearly 100 percent of its troops into position needed for an invasion.

    The defense official was not able to confirm if additional troops had moved into the Donbas area.

    “They are literally ready to go now if they get the order to go,” said the senior official regarding the 150,000 Russian troops that are at Ukraine’s borders.

    The senior official added that the US will do “as much as we can as long as we can” to monitor Russian troop activity from air space, reported Reuters.

  47. says

    Informative piece by Anna Merlan at Vice – “Mysterious Medical Organizations Are Calling for an End to COVID Vaccines”:

    The World Council for Health (WCH) is in no way what it sounds like, which is of course exactly the point. The organization’s website is set up to look like a public health nonprofit: a clean layout, a cheery little logo—a graphic of a hand inside an apple, a heart inlay inside the hand—and a bland mission statement, which proclaims that the group is “a worldwide coalition of health-focused organizations and civil society groups that seek to broaden public health knowledge and sense-making through science and shared wisdom.” There’s also a sprinkling of stock photos, prominently featuring Black women and children.

    In reality, the WCH is an umbrella group for purveyors of COVID misinformation. Its dozens of large and small “coalition partners,” among which are groups that are regularly in the headlines and ones working behind the scenes, are based all over the world. They share one thing: a devotion to casting doubt on COVID vaccines and promoting discredited treatments for the disease. In the past few months, the WCH has declared that COVID vaccines are “dangerous and ineffective,” released a nonsense guide to “spike protein detox” after vaccination (premised on the completely false idea that the vaccine somehow looses dangerous spike proteins in the body), misleadingly claimed that COVID vaccination is leading to increased heart issues in both adults and children, and called on its followers to be “the hands and feet of this global coalition” and deliver a petition against the vaccines to their local elected officials.

    The WCH isn’t alone. Since the beginning of the pandemic, a growing number of organizations, new and old, have devoted themselves to creating the perception that there are legitimate medical bodies who question the basic science of mask-wearing, social distancing, and vaccination.

    There is some precedent here, but in the world of politics, not medicine. In 2017, as Buzzfeed journalist Charlie Warzel wrote at the time, an architecture of alternative news sources had emerged, all devoted to pushing a heroic story about Donald Trump. Warzel called it a “new media upside-down,” a place where the story was always about the Trump White House’s successes, framed to look like real, unbiased news. (“We’ve really created parallel institutions,” Mike Cernovich, a juice salesman turned men’s rights activist turned central “New Right” figure, told Warzel.)

    Today, the concept of a parallel institution is being put into energetic use to promote alternative, energetically twisted narratives about COVID and vaccination. Whenever the pandemic recedes, though, these groups and the architecture they’ve put in place will remain. Already, state-level anti-vaccine groups, animated by the pandemic, are using that new energy to try to push through anti-vax legislation. In the same way there’s no doubt that even after the pandemic ends, the WCH and outfits like it will remain just as devoted to promoting bad science, suspicion, and distrust. Their business model, after all, depends on it.

    Much more at the link.

  48. says

    It was yesterday morning when Republican Sen. Rick Scott of Florida unveiled a far-right policy blueprint, which included, among other things, a call for higher income taxes on millions of Americans. It apparently took less than a day for Democrats to turn this into an ad.

    Politico reported this morning:

    The DSCC is launching a five-figure radio and podcast ad buy knocking the Sen. Rick Scott-created GOP agenda unveiled Tuesday, specifically his call for new income taxes on millions of Americans. The ad’s last sentence? “If Senate Republicans win, we pay the price.”

    According to the Democratic Senatorial Campaign Committee’s press statement, the spot will reach “targeted voters” as early as today.

    The 15-second ad itself is pretty straightforward: “This just in, Republicans have released their plan if they win the Senate,” the script reads. “It’s to raise taxes on over 50 percent of Americans, including many seniors and working families. If Republicans win, we’ll pay the price.”

    […] it’s worth noting for context that Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel was quick to offer public support for the senator’s rollout yesterday.

    Indeed, pointing to the Floridian’s blueprint, McDaniel boasted, “Republicans are offering a clear plan to protect and reinvigorate the America we know and love.”

    […] he [Scott] went on Fox News last night to deny that his plan would raise taxes — despite the fact that his plan would raise taxes.

    Scott went on to try to push back against his critics via Twitter this morning, saying Democrats are “out of touch,” because Americans “want everyone to pay their fair share.”

    […] Here, again, is the literal wording of the Republican’s plan: “All Americans should pay some income tax to have skin in the game, even if a small amount. Currently over half of Americans pay no income tax.”

    If those who aren’t paying federal income taxes have to start paying federal income taxes, then, by definition, the new system would impose tax increases on millions of people. […]


  49. says


    About a month after U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker said it was “totally unfair“ to ask him his position on the bipartisan infrastructure package, the Georgia Republican now says he opposes the law. The former football player said he’s against the policy because it invests in “trees,” an apparent reference to funding for wildfire recovery for the National Forest Service.

    On a related note, Walker was asked about his party’s heated gubernatorial primary. The Senate hopeful said, in reference to Gov. Brian Kemp and former U.S. Sen. David Perdue, “I don’t support either one of them. I’m mad at both of them.” There are no other competitive GOP candidates.

  50. says

    Not good news:

    As secretary of state races generate more attention in the Big Lie era, Politico reports that the Democratic Party’s biggest donors aren’t investing in these races. The article added, “The absence of more big checks is notable considering that the Democratic Association of Secretaries of State, a 527 organization, has no limit on the size of the donations it can receive.”


  51. says

    Some podcast episodes:

    You’re Wrong About – “CSI: Junk Science w. Josie Duffy Rice”:

    Josie Duffy Rice and Sarah discuss the role of junk science in the criminal justice system….

    SWAJ – “The Far-Right Microtargeting Platform Radicalizing Churches + QAnon Yoga Moms”:

    Brad speaks to filmmaker Kat Gellein Viken who is the co-creator of two recent documentaries on churches, conspiracy, and the war on democracy. In 2020’s People You May Know, Gellein and her co-creator Charles Kriel connect the dots among the Council for National policy, American oligarchs, and nefarious data mining firms. The film follows a trail that eventually reveals how churches are collecting their parishioners’ most sensitive data and how that data is being sent to political operatives in order to use it as a weapon to wage war on democracy. In 2022’s Dis/informed the duo pull back the curtain on the 12 sources of disinformation that account for over 60% of the pandemics spread of disinformation. This time, the trail leads to online wellness spaces full of yoga moms into alternative medicine and natural remedies. The filmmakers reveal how yoga moms became allied with conspiracy theorists and far-right agitators as part of the anti-vax and QAnon movements.

    On the Media – “Good As Gold”:

    Mainstream journalists keep falling for crypto scams that can end up costing their audiences a fortune. On this week’s On the Media, hear why all of us might want to become at least a bit literate in crypto-technology. Plus, the story of an American pundit living in Moscow, who’s being paid to be Russian TV’s favorite punching bag….

  52. says

    Wonkette: “Big Dumb US Trucker Convoy Limps Off To Washington DC”

    This week, some Pennsylvania truckers are launching a convey in protest of US pandemic restrictions. If they find any restrictions left, they should let us know. It seems as if they’re a day late and a tantrum short. Penn Live reports that an “undetermined number” of truckers will leave Scranton, the home of President Joe Biden, and head for Washington DC where they will air their Festivus-worthy grievances.

    Scranton business owner and Donald Trump lover Bob Bolus (bolus, noun: 1, a small rounded mass of a substance, especially of chewed food at the moment of swallowing. 2, a type of large pill used in veterinary medicine) is leading the Canadian-inspired convoy. He says they’ll stop first in Harrisburg before arriving in DC and tying up the Beltway. Here’s how Bolus describes what he insists is a peaceful protest.

    “I’ll give you an analogy of that of a giant boa constrictor,” Bolus said. “That basically squeezes you, chokes you and it swallows you, and that’s what we’re going to do the DC.”

    That doesn’t sound very “peaceful.” Conservatives love to co-opt Dr. Martin Luther King’s “I Have A Dream” speech, so they should consider why Dr. King didn’t include the line “I am a giant snake that will squeeze, choke, and swallow the life out of the white power structure.”

    Republicans have not so subtly expressed their yearning for a domestic version of the economically devastating Canadian trucker blockades. Senator Rand Paul said in an interview this month: “I’m all for [US trucker convoys]. Civil disobedience … is a time-honored tradition in our country from slavery to civil rights to you name it. Peaceful protest, clog things up, make people think about the mandates.” Senator Ted Cruz called the Canadian truckers protesting their nation’s COVID-19 vaccine mandates “heroes.”

    Heroic boa constrictor-wannabe Bolus told Lindsay Watts at Fox 5 that his convoy will graciously leave a lane open for emergency responders but his response to the people just trying to get work was “geez that’s too bad.” Bolus said he doesn’t plan to get arrested even though deliberately fucking up traffic is the sort of thing for which people get arrested. Bolus was convicted of insurance fraud in 2012 so he’s probably not an expert on what’s legal.

    Some other geniuses have planned trucker convoys through online forums with such inspired names as the People’s Convoy and the American Truckers Freedom Fund. They have different starting points, departure dates, and routes, but most are scheduled to arrive at the nation’s capital in time for Biden’s State of the Union address next Tuesday.

    The Pentagon announced Tuesday that it has approved the deployment of 800 unarmed troops to “provide support at traffic control points in and around the District” and to be alert for “possible disruption at key traffic arteries.” […]

    so far Bolus’s giant boa constrictor looks a bit flaccid. His truck had two flat tires, which delayed the departure, and it looked for a while as if no one else was showing up.

    Reuters producer Julio-César Chávez tweeted video this morning of the rather pathetic display. [three videos available at the link]

    Chávez’s updates are hilarious:

    Bob Bolus is currently driving his truck in a small parade around downtown Scranton.

    Bob Bolus is on the highway headed down to DC. We have driven up and down the line, His 18 wheeler is the only one in the convoy followed by four or five pick up trucks and SUVs (that we can tell). All other 18ws passing him His claim of having 25 trucks driving down is false.

    I just watched the one of Bob Bolus’ own work trucks pass him on the highway and continue driving

    This is not Bolus’s first protest. In 2017, he crashed a Black Lives Matter demonstration against Confederate statues. He angrily flipped off people opposed to traitor memorials and told them: “You don’t like America? Go back to Africa!”

    He’s a class act.


  53. says

    ‘You are making career decisions’: Martin Hyde threatens officer who gives him three tickets

    Florida just knows how to pick ‘em. A Republican congressional candidate from Florida has made his rounds on Twitter for not only arguing but allegedly threatening police officials. Running for election to the U.S. House to represent Florida’s 16th Congressional District, Martin Hyde not only argued with a police officer who pulled him over but targeted the officer’s background. Body camera footage of the incident, which occurred on Feb. 14, has gone viral on social media, with many criticizing Hyde.

    “You are making career decisions,” the Sarasota Republican threatened Officer Julia Beskin. According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Beskin had pulled over Hyde for speeding and texting while driving. During the stop, Beskin also cited Hyde for the failure to produce a valid registration.

    […] Clearly, he thinks he is better than others and deserved special treatment because he is running for Congress.

    But while Hyde allegedly tried to downplay what happened during the traffic stop, footage shared on Feb. 23 further details the encounter and raises issues. [video available at the link]

    Beskin can be seen walking over to the window after pulling over Hyde’s vehicle. […] she pulled over Hyde for driving 27 miles over the speed limit in a 30 mph zone.

    To which Hyde responds: “You don’t need to point at me, officer. I’ll just call the chief. You know who I am, right?”

    […] it only gets worse.

    Because Beskin gave him three tickets, Hyde threatens to call both Rex Troche, who is the city manager, and Marlon Brown, who is the city mayor.

    When that doesn’t seem to faze Beskin, he resorts to targeting her identity and ethnic background.

    “Is it your Russian immigrant status that makes you talk to people like this?” According to the Sarasota Herald-Tribune, Beskin is originally from Latvia and speaks both Russian and English.

    He then continues to talk over and attempt to degrade her.

    “Do you think you’re winning? Do you?” Hyde says. “You’re talking to a congressional candidate like this?” He can even be heard repeatedly claiming “you’re lying” and demanding Beskin wait while he calls a supervisor to the scene.

    Despite Beskin saying she will wait and asking Hyde to stay in his vehicle for his own safety, he gets out. Eventually, several police cars arrive on the scene […] despite his actions, Hyde continued to play victim, claiming he was being a law-abiding citizen and Beskin should be the one facing consequences for her handling of the traffic stop.

    “We’re going to make sure she pays the price for being disrespectful,” he told another officer.

    It is confirmed that Hyde was the driver because Beskin specifically used his name on dispatch. “The driver is being extremely uncooperative,” she said. “Martin Hyde. I just gave him three tickets.”

    […] Of course, after the backlash he faced he had to say something on social media. On his Facebook, he released the following statement.

    “Just over a week ago I was stopped in Sarasota for speeding. During the stop I was belligerent and rude to the officer who stopped me. Much interest has been shown in local media and many comments made as to my behavior. I’m not going to justify my poor temper on that day or attempt to mitigate it in any way . There will be some who will say it’s not the first time I’ve acted out and they’d be right. I have faults and one of them is to be overly aggressive on occasion when I’m challenged. In the political arena that is possibly a good thing but on a personal level it’s not.

    I’ve apologized to the officer in question, and now I’m apologizing to the community as a whole. I’m going to do my utmost to behave better going forward. I’m not running away though as that’s not in my nature. There is nothing more I can say, or will say on this subject other than I’m sorry for any offense caused to anyone.”

    But his temper is not the only issue he apparently deals with. Hyde has faced backlash before for his racist and ignorant comments.

    […] in 2019 he allegedly told a teenage Latino tennis player to “cut grass.” But that’s not all: After the incident, he was accused of offering the teen $50,000 to delete the video footage of the incident.

    “You’re telling me to cut grass because I’m Hispanic,” the player said in the video of the incident. “That’s racism, man. How can you say something like that? Aren’t you human?”

    Seems like Hyde thinks paying off individuals or threatening them will hide his racist nature. Too bad—he’s wrong. He’s allegedly considered dropping out of the race before; maybe this latest backlash will confirm his worry that no one will support a bigot like him.

  54. blf says

    France extends abortion limit after year of parliamentary rows:

    France has extended its time limit for abortion after an epic battle in parliament, amid anger that thousands of women had to travel abroad each year to terminate pregnancies in countries such as the Netherlands, Spain or England because of French restrictions.

    There was applause in the French national assembly on Wednesday when lawmakers voted definitively to extend the legal limit for ending a pregnancy from 12 to 14 weeks. France’s new time frame is still lower than in some other European countries, including England at 24 weeks.

    The health minister, Olivier Véran, said it was crucial “to end the distress of the thousands of women who have to go abroad” for abortions.

    But it took more than a year of bitter rows and struggle by politicians to change the law, amid reticence from the president, Emmanuel Macron. […]

    Even though the change to the abortion time limit was not a government project, lawmakers from Macron’s party decided to back the law and push it through parliament, independent of Macron’s position. The government allowed a free vote. Macron said he would “respect the freedom of parliamentarians”.

    The health minister had personally approved the law and told parliament the 14-week time limit, and an increase in abortion services in France, was a “victory for society”, a “very important day for parliament” and for the “fight for the emancipation of women”. He said the law would add to the measures introduced by the government for women’s health, including free contraception for women under 25.

    Lawmakers on the left expressed disappointment that they did not manage to scrap a special clause that gives French health practitioners the right to refuse to perform an abortion on moral grounds. […]

  55. says

    Another podcast episode – today’s The Daily – “‘A Knife to the Throat’: Putin’s Logic for Invading Ukraine”:

    At 10 p.m. in Moscow on Monday night, Russian state television interrupted its regular programming to air an address from President Vladimir V. Putin about the Ukraine crisis.We look back on what Mr. Putin’s hourlong speech — remarkable for his overt display of emotion and grievance — revealed about his rationale for invading.Guest: Anton Troianovski, the Moscow bureau chief for The New York Times.

  56. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine imposes national state of emergency

    The Ukraine parliament just voted to approve a state of emergency.

    The state of emergency decree will begin on 24 February and last 30 days.

    More details to come.

  57. says

    Subversion strategist John Eastman’s court records reveal beginnings of work with Trump.

    New court filings in the battle between Trump ally John Eastman and the Jan. 6 committee have helped flesh out the details behind how the conservative attorney came into his role advising former President Donald Trump.

    Eastman, who authored a strategy pressuring former Vice President Mike Pence to overturn the 2020 election for Trump, revealed he was first invited to join the former president’s “election integrity working group” on Sept. 3, 2020. The group was preparing for “post-election litigation” and that effort had been underway since at least August.

    It was Cleta Mitchell, a prominent conservative attorney, the filings show, who was “deputized” by Trump to launch the so-called working group and in turn, Mitchell turned to Eastman for help.

    The disclosures from Eastman have surfaced as result of a lawsuit he brought against the Jan. 6 committee. The committee first subpoenaed Eastman for his records and deposition in October seeking information about his interactions with Trump leading up to Jan. 6.

    Citing executive privilege, Eastman balked and pleaded the Fifth Amendment. The committee went around that obstruction, however, and subpoenaed his employer, Chapman University. Ultimately, a federal judge ordered the records to be produced, directing Eastman to mock up a privilege log and itemize any records the committee might have asked for but are, in his opinion, protected by privilege. He was also ordered earlier this month to describe why they are considered privileged and explain the specific nature of “all attorney-client and agent relationships” that he premised the privileges on.

    As a result, in a 14-page declaration filed in a federal court in California, Eastman offered for the first time a description of his work for Trump.

    “As a member of the Election Integrity Working Group and in furtherance of my representation of President Trump as candidate and his campaign committee, I began conducting legal research and collaborating with academic advisers and other supporters of the President about the myriad number of factual and legal issues we anticipated might arise following the election,” he wrote.

    Though Mitchell came to Eastman in the late summer of 2020, Eastman notes he did not sign a formal engagement letter with Trump until December.

    He was still working for Trump, though, noting how he met with the former president’s legal team in Philadelphia on Nov. 7 to prepare a challenge to election results in Pennsylvania.

    Investigators have pegged Eastman as one of the most integral figures in Trump’s push to overturn Biden’s victory in 2020. The attorney provided counsel to the president on how to subvert the results, a maneuver that would have overturned the will of millions of voters.

    He also corresponded with state officials on Trump’s behalf in Georgia and Wisconsin to “advise them of their constitutional authority” on how to choose presidential electors.

    Eastman was often at Trump’s “war room” at the Willard Hotel in D.C., investigators say. It was there that he and others, like Rudy Giuliani, Bernie Kerik, and Steve Bannon would meet to hash out the overthrow strategy. He was also in frequent contact with Pence’s counsel, Greg Jacobs.

    “i communicated extensively with statistical and other experts to analyze voting anomalies that raised serious questions about the validity of the election in a number of key counties and states,” Eastman wrote. “Several of those experts requested anonymity for fear of losing their academic or corporate positions and being threatened with violence were it to become known, in the hyper-partisan atmosphere of the post-election litigation, that they were working on statistically analysis with members of President Trump’s legal team.”

    Important to note, however, is in an engagement letter Eastman shared with the court. The letter is dated Dec. 5. And while it details how Eastman would service Trump as his client, the letter is not signed. […]

    There are a few redactions in the brief defending the privilege claims. The names redacted appear to belong to at least one volunteer attorney and another person listed as “an attorney.” Discussions with those individuals, Eastman said, revolved around “work product discussion.”

    Other names are redacted too, including someone who was “apparently outside the attorney client relationship” and was following up with Eastman about a meeting held with “forensic experts who had information that might have been useful in anticipated litigation,” the brief states.

    Notably unredacted in Tuesday’s filing was the name “Oltmann.” That is likely a reference to Joe Oltmann, a Colorado-based right-wing activist who hosts the podcast Conservative Daily. Oltmann made dubious claims in October about Dominion Voting Systems, claiming the voting machines were rigged. Oltmann also claimed he snuck onto “an antifa conference call,” The Colorado Sun reported, where he heard an official at Dominion Voting Systems say the company would ensure Trump would lose. [Bullshit and other garbage.]

    A “data technology expert” working with Eastman sent an email to Oltmann, Eastman wrote, and one of the volunteer Trump attorneys about their “work product.” […]

    Document and privilege log production will continue for Eastman in the days and likely weeks ahead. Though the committee agreed to narrow its request for now to Chapman University emails spanning just Jan. 4, 2021 to Jan. 6, 2021, there are 90,000 pages of records at review.


  58. says

    “The Crushing Loss of Hope in Ukraine,” by Masha Gessen

    New Yorker link

    Putin has declared that history is destiny, and that Ukraine will never get away from Russia.

    “Are you listening to Putin?” is not the kind of text message I expect to receive from a friend in Moscow. But that’s the question my closest friend asked me on Monday, when the Russian President was about twenty minutes into a public address in which he would announce that he was recognizing two eastern regions of Ukraine as independent countries and effectively lay out his rationale for launching a new military offensive against Ukraine. I was listening—Putin had just said that Ukraine had no history of legitimate statehood. When the speech was over, my friend posted on Facebook, “I can’t breathe.”

    Fifty-four years ago, the Soviet dissident Larisa Bogoraz wrote, “It becomes impossible to live and to breathe.” When she wrote the note, in 1968, she was about to take part in a desperate protest: eight people went to Red Square with banners that denounced the Soviet Union’s invasion of Czechoslovakia. I have always understood Bogoraz’s note to be an expression of shame—the helpless, silent shame of a citizen who can do nothing to stop her country’s aggression. But on Monday I understood those words as expressing something more, something that my friends in Russia were feeling in addition to shame: the tragedy that is the death of hope.

    For some Soviet intellectuals, Czechoslovakia in 1968 represented the possibility of a different future. That spring, events appeared to prove that Czechoslovakia was part of the larger world, despite being in the Soviet bloc. The leadership of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia was instituting reforms. It seemed that, after the great terrors of both Hitler and Stalin, there could be freedom of speech, freedom of assembly, a free exchange of ideas in the media, and possibly even actual elections in Eastern and Central Europe, and that all of these changes could be achieved peacefully. The Czechoslovaks called it “socialism with a human face.”

    In August, 1968, Soviet tanks rolled in, crushing the Prague Spring in Czechoslovakia and hope everywhere in the Soviet bloc. Nothing different was going to happen here. It became impossible to live and to breathe. This was when eight Moscow acquaintances, with minimal discussion and coördination, went to Red Square and unfurled posters that read “For Your Liberty and Ours” and “Hands Off Czechoslovakia,” among others. All were arrested, and seven were given jail time, held in psychiatric detention, or sent into internal exile.

    Ukraine has long represented hope for a small minority of Russians. Ukraine shares Russia’s history of tyranny and terror. It lost more than four million people to a man-made famine in 1931-34 and still uncounted others to other kinds of Stalinist terror. Between five and seven million Ukrainians died during the Second World War and the Nazi occupation in 1941-44; this included one and a half million Jews killed in what is often known as the Holocaust by Bullets. Just as in Russia, no family survived untouched by the twin horrors of Stalinism and Nazism.

    After the collapse of the Soviet Union, in 1991, both Russian and Ukrainian societies struggled to forge new identities. Both contended with poverty, corruption, and growing inequality. Both had leaders who tried to stay in office by falsifying the vote. But in 2004 Ukrainians revolted against a rigged election, camping out in Kyiv’s Independence Square for weeks. The country’s highest court ordered a revote. Nine years later, when the President sold the country out to Russia—agreeing to scrap an association agreement with the European Union in exchange for fifteen billion in Russian loans—Ukrainians of vastly different political persuasions came to Independence Square again. They stayed there, day and night, through the dead of winter. They stayed when the government opened fire on them. More than a hundred people died before the corrupt President fled to Russia. A willingness to die for freedom is now a part of not only Ukrainians’ mythology but their lived history.

    […] It felt something like this: our history doesn’t have to be our destiny. We may yet be brave enough and determined enough to win our freedom.

    On Monday, Putin took aim at this sense of hope in his rambling, near-hour-long speech. Playing amateur historian, as he has done several times in recent years, Putin said that the Russian state is indivisible, and that the principles on the basis of which former Soviet republics won independence in 1991 were illegitimate. He effectively declared that the post-Cold War world order is over, that history is destiny and Ukraine will never get away from Russia.

    Hannah Arendt observed that totalitarian regimes function by declaring imagined laws of history and then acting to enforce them. [Emphasis added by Lynna.] On Tuesday, Putin asked his puppet parliament for authorization to use force abroad. […] As the self-appointed enforcer of the laws of history, Putin was laying down the groundwork for removing the Ukrainian government and installing one that he imagines will do the Kremlin’s bidding.

    Putin expects to succeed because he can overwhelm Ukraine with military force, and because he has known the threat of force to be effective against unarmed opposition. Putin’s main opponent, Alexey Navalny, is in prison […] The number of independent journalists in Russia has dwindled to a handful, and many of them, too, are working from exile, addressing tiny audiences, because the state blocks access to many of their Web sites and has branded others “foreign agents.” […]

    What Putin does not imagine is the kind and scale of resistance that he would actually encounter in Ukraine. These are the people who stood to the death in Independence Square. In 2014, they took up arms to defend Ukraine against a Russian incursion. Underequipped and underprepared, these volunteers joined the war effort from all walks of life. Others organized in monumental numbers to collect equipment and supplies to support the fighters and those suffering from the occupation of the east, in an effort that lasted for several years. When Putin encounters Ukrainian resistance, he will respond the only way he knows: with devastating force. The loss of life will be staggering. Watching it will make it impossible to live and to breathe.

  59. blf says

    In cuckoolandistan, MAGA Pastor Mark Burns Calls for Mass Civil Disobedience to Shut Down America to Prevent the Teaching of Critical Race Theory (RWW edits in {curly braces}):

    Mark Burns, an unabashed Christian nationalist Trump-loving pastor who is running for Congress in South Carolina, spoke at the ReAwaken America conference last weekend in Canton, Ohio, where he called on right-wing activists to launch a wave of civil disobedience to shut down America in an effort to prevent schools from teaching critical race theory.

    The ReAwaken America event was organized and hosted by conspiracy theorist Clay Clark, who has been bringing various election, COVID-19, and QAnon conspiracy theorists together in churches around the country for the last year. The Ohio event featured the likes of Rep Marjorie Taylor Greene, Roger Stone, Michael Flynn, and Eric Trump, who used his time on stage to call his father — the real president — from his cell phone, much to the delight of the crowd.


    […] We should be shutting down school districts, Burns declared. My spirit is going back to Dr Martin Luther King and the civil rights movement. You understand the civil rights movement of then is not the civil rights movement of right now? White people, I’m trying to help somebody. Are you all ready? The segregation that you’ve experienced for refusing to take the {COVID-19 vaccine}, the liberal left is now making you out to be a second-class citizen. Congratulations. You know what it feels like to be Black.

    Just like {during the time of} Dr Martin Luther King, God is raising up armies that we are going to start having civil disobedience in America, Burns proclaimed. Just like the Montgomery Improvement Association that led the boycott that Rosa Parks led that shut down the busing system in Montgomery, Alabama, we are going to shut down this America that’s led by the racist, liberal, race-baiting Democrats.


  60. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    This just in: leaders of two separatist regions in eastern Ukraine have asked Russia for help with aggression from the Ukrainian army, reports Ifax citing Russian government spokesperson Dmitry Peskov.

    Many experts are pointing to these requests as the latest (possibly final) pretext that Russia could use to launch a full attack on Ukraine….

  61. says

    In what appears to be a rift between two long-standing political partners, Donald J. Trump has blasted Vladimir Putin for being “too distracted” by the situation in Ukraine to help him with his 2024 campaign for President.

    “He gave a long speech the other night, and was going on and on about Ukraine and didn’t mention me once,” Trump said. “This should never be allowed to happen in this country.”

    Calling Putin “too low-energy” to deal with Ukraine and the 2024 U.S. election at the same time, Trump said that his erstwhile ally had “priorities that are very, very bad.”

    “He’s spending all his time spreading disinformation about Ukraine when he could be spreading disinformation about Sleepy Joe Biden,” Trump said. “Quite frankly, Vladimir Putin is a disgrace.”

    Trump revealed that he had called the Russian President several times in recent days but that his calls went straight to voice mail.

    “When I was President, I could’ve spent all my time invading Canada, but I always took his calls,” Trump said.


  62. says

    On MSNBC’s “Deadline White House” presentation today, one guest (retired General), said that Russian intelligence officers were already in Kyiv, ready to act on Putin’s orders.

    From NBC News:

    Ukrainians lined up outside a military registration and enlistment office in Kyiv on Tuesday, a day before President Volodymyr Zelenskyy called up some of the country’s military reservists ahead of a possible conflict with Russia.

  63. says

    NBC News:

    Texas Gov. Greg Abbott is calling on ‘licensed professionals’ and ‘members of the general public’ to report the parents of transgender minors to state authorities if it appears the minors are receiving gender-affirming medical care.

    Associated Press:

    Florida House Republicans on Tuesday advanced a bill to forbid discussions of sexual orientation and gender identity in schools, rejecting criticism from Democrats who said the proposal demonizes LGBTQ people. The measure, dubbed by opponents as the ‘Don’t Say Gay’ bill, is now set for a final vote in the House after GOP lawmakers refused a series of Democratic amendments Tuesday.

  64. says

    Oh, FFS.

    DeJoy defies Biden again, moves forward with gas-guzzling truck order

    U.S. Postmaster General Louis DeJoy is plowing forward with a $6 billion contract to replace the U.S. Postal Service’s (USPS) aging, gas-guzzling fleet with a brand new gas-guzzling fleet—cementing at least two more decades of green-house gas emissions. About 20 million metric tons worth.

    That was the estimate from the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) when it raised the alarm about the intent of DeJoy to finalize this contract with Oshkosh Corp. The EPA and the White House Council on Environmental Quality wrote to the USPS a few weeks ago urging it to hold off on the decision and conduct a more complete environmental review. Instead, DeJoy is moving ahead to purchase as many as 165,000 of the new trucks over the next 10 years, and 90% of them will be gas-powered rather than electric.

    Those vehicles will be produced at a facility Oshkosh Defense, a subsidiary company, is building in Spartanburg, South Carolina, not in the the company’s namesake city in Wisconsin. It also means that thousands of United Auto Workers won’t be building these vehicles—the South Carolina plant won’t be unionized. There’s another poke in the eye from DeJoy to President Joe Biden, who has repeatedly declared that he’ll be “the most pro-union President leading the most pro-union administration in American history.“ [worse and worse!]

    DeJoy is brazenly flouting the administration’s goals on labor and on environmental protection. Biden has committed to converting the entire federal fleet of vehicles to electric power. The USPS fleet is about one-third of all those vehicles. The USPS is an independent agency and doesn’t have to abide by Biden’s executive order on zero-emissions electric vehicles.

    So he’s not. […]

    On the other hand, federal courts previously have held that the USPS is bound by the National Environmental Policy Act when making major policy decisions. If a court found the agency didn’t adequately analyze the environmental impact of this decisions, the contract could be invalidated. And this decision is going to go to court, with environmental groups already preparing to sue. […]

    “The United States Postal Service’s ill-informed and costly decision will lock Americans into an overwhelmingly gas-powered mail delivery system for generations to come,” the Zero Emission Transportation Association, which represents electric vehicle makers and electric utilities, said in a statement. “This decision directly subverts federal regulations and our international commitments — and President Biden’s executive order to electrify the federal fleet.”

    DeJoy clearly feels untouchable at this point, and he might be despite the fact that he was in the top five of the most corrupt Trump hires, and is definitely the most corrupt Trump holdover. For whatever reason, President Biden made the decision to wait on filling the Board of Governors with his people, making it clear to them that getting rid of DeJoy was a priority. Over the past year, there hasn’t been a great deal of pressure from Democrats in Congress to do it—even though they loathe DeJoy—because they’ve been prioritizing their Postal Service reform bill and haven’t wanted to rock that boat.

    Now that bill is headed for a Senate vote next week. It’s got broad bipartisan support, but that doesn’t mean Republicans are going to allow it to pass easily. They’ve already delayed it once for no good reason.

    Senate Republicans have also begun a concerted campaign of blocking Biden’s nominees in committee, so the future of the two remaining Biden nominees to the Postal Service Board of Governors has to be in question, particularly if it looks like their appointment would end up with DeJoy’s ouster.

    DeJoy’s assault on the environment could potentially be stopped in the courts, but that doesn’t mean he shouldn’t be out on his ear. That’s going to take a concerted and unified Senate Democratic conference that is willing to change the Senate’s rules on nominations to defeat Republican obstruction. It’s going to take Biden prioritizing saving the institution.

  65. says

    Greg Abbott ordered electricity prices to remain at maximum after ice storm [in February 2021], then lied about it.

    […] even though power systems were coming back on line within 48 hours of the initial collapse, he [former ERCOT CEO Bill Magness] got a message from the governor’s office.

    “She told me the governor had conveyed to her if we emerged from rotating outages it was imperative they not resume,” Magness testified. “We needed to do what we needed to do to make it happen.”

    What ERCOT could do was what ERCOT did: keep prices punishingly high. Prices were held at $9,000 per megawatt hour, over 150 times greater than the average price.

    According to the Chronicle, the thinking behind this was that it would “encourage large power users like factories and petrochemical plants to stay offline.” In other words, the cost of electricity was set so high that business didn’t dare operate, because they couldn’t face the bills. However, that same price was passed along to consumers by many providers, generating costs that found ordinary households facing bills well above $15,000 for a single month of power.

    It was also a strategy that ignored the real problems with the grid, like how natural gas providers had failed to insulate pipelines and storage facilities, meaning that many Texas power plants were simply unable to get fuel. Raising the prices for power did nothing to help.

    Instead, this was punitive pricing, designed to punish anyone who dared use power. Except that it also came in the middle of an intense wave of cold, at a time when people had to use electricity to warm their homes.

    […] there doesn’t seem to be a good excuse for keeping it [maximum pricing] there an additional two days after the system had stabilized.

    […] the biggest news may be the testimony that Abbott was directly involved in setting the electrical price high and keeping it there. That’s because last year, Abbott’s office denied any connection to ERCOT’s pricing strategy. Abbott spokesman Mark Miner said that Abbott was not “involved in any way” in the decision to keep prices at the maximum, [LIES]

    […] When average price for a megawatt of power is less than $60, the opportunity to see it shoot up to $9,000 is rarely missed. While Texas may have few outages as bad as those that happened last February, even in the average year, electrical providers make most of their money in just a few days when the system is at or near collapse.

    Those prices help ensure that no one in Texas is actually building backup capacity, or investing in hardening their facilities against bad weather. The incentives are all there to make more money through failure instead of reliability.

    However, what appears to be 100% clear is that Abbott lied to the state, and to regulators, when he claimed to have no involvement in the decision to keep prices high.

    Surely Beto O’Rourke can use this information very effectively as he campaigns to be governor of Texas.

  66. says

    The Soufan Center – “IntelBrief: Russian Disinformation Forms Key Part of the Kremlin’s Approach to Conflict with Ukraine”:

    In the lead up to the current crisis with Ukraine, Russia continued to value mis-, dis-, and malinformation (MDM) as a key part of its approach to influencing and manipulating public opinion, both domestically and abroad. Every aspect of Russia’s approach to warfare includes a disinformation component, particularly during “Phase 0,” sometimes referred to as so-called “shaping operations.” Cyberattacks, propaganda, and information warfare are used to sow discord and confusion among Russia’s adversaries while Moscow works to prepare for military operations and other kinetic actions. Russia has also executed numerous “false flag” operations over the past few weeks, although several commentators have noted the amateurish quality of these feints. Nonetheless, such efforts also confuse the intended audience—not influencing tech-savvy Western open-source intelligence sleuths, but rather provoking fear and concern among Russian citizens that their compatriots are under siege from Ukraine’s armed forces.

    Like other sophisticated actors, Russia targets multiple audiences simultaneously. In a video released by the Kremlin of the meeting between its national security leadership, Russian President Vladimir Putin is seen intimidating Sergei Naryshkin, the chief of Russia’s foreign intelligence service. The decision to release this video of one of the most sensitive meetings possible demonstrates a clear desire to influence the Russian population. The NATO alliance has been more unified than Putin expected, and there is widespread speculation that, by amassing such a large scale of forces on Ukraine’s borders, the Russian leader may have miscalculated. To reinforce an image of strength and fortitude, the Kremlin has released such highly scripted videos. In addition, social media accounts have flooded the internet with Russian talking points related to NATO membership, false flag events, attempts by the U.S. media to allegedly manipulate public opinion and sully Russia’s image, and alleged “genocide” in the Donbas region. This last narrative in particular is being used to provide justification for Russia’s incursion into Donetsk and Luhansk, as well as Putin’s recognition of these territories as independent entities.

    Putin casts himself as a defender of Russian orthodoxy and appeals to traditional Russian cultural, religious, and ethnic narratives. In turn, many of these narratives are picked up by high-profile media and political figures in the West. In a best-case scenario for Russia, highly influential figures in the United States, Europe, and elsewhere either wittingly or unwittingly seize up Russian disinformation and promote narratives to their followers.Interestingly, many of the religious and cultural narratives mentioned in Putin’s speech this week are also put forth by groups like the Russian Imperial Movement (RIM). This could bring far-right extremists closer to elements within the Russian government.

    Just last week, the Associated Press revealed that U.S. intelligence officials accused a conservative financial news website, Zero Hedge, of promoting Russian propaganda and disinformation. Several other media outlets, created by Russia and with strong connections to Russian intelligence, were also named and shamed. The West, and European countries in particular, should be prepared for a new wave of mis-, dis-, and malinformation in the coming weeks and months, especially as NATO countries move to enact crippling sanctions on Russia.… Government ministers, policymakers, and military officials are far more cognizant of Russian MDM capabilities today than they were in 2014, when Russia invaded and occupied Crimea. Still, it remains a major challenge for countries to inoculate their citizens against a relentless torrent of falsehoods, propaganda, and deliberately misleading or manipulated information.

  67. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukrainian media are reporting at least six government websites are down in an alleged cyberattack.

    “Cyber attack also hit websites of ministries of infrastructure, strategic industries and education,” the Kyiv Independent newspaper reports.

    According to the publication, the websites of the cabinet of ministers, foreign and agricultural ministries and the security service are down.

    The UNSC is holding an emergency meeting tonight at 9:30 ET.

  68. says

    Olga Tokariuk:

    The advice circulating on social media in Ukraine right now

    “Everyone who has an active public anti-Russian position in Ukraine must already take measures for personal security. Be ready for self-defense, be careful and pay special attention to the “red” areas – home, work any place you visit often. Inspect your car, do not move alone”

  69. says

    Anton Troianovski, NYT:

    It’s almost 4 a.m. in Moscow, but lots of Russians are already posting about Zelensky’s moving speech. “The problem is there’s no one to respond to him,” one writes. “Most Russians are in no condition right now to decide, say or think anything.”

    That feeling of powerlessness is what we sensed in reporting this story about the sudden realization in Moscow that war could be coming: fear and resignation that things will only get much worse.

  70. says

    Bianna Golodryga, CNN:

    History will remember 2 speeches this week: Putin’s unhinged march towards war, and Zelensky’s emotional appeal for peace in perfect Russian, to Russians: “Ukraine in your news and Ukraine in real life are 2 completely different countries. The biggest difference: ours is real.”

  71. says

    USA Today – “FBI says at least 57 institutions, including HBCUs, have received bomb threats in 2022”:

    After a spate of bomb threats to scores of Historically Black Colleges and Universities and places of worship, the FBI said Wednesday authorities in dozens of offices nationwide have deployed for an aggressive investigation.

    At least 57 institutions received bomb threats by phone, email, instant messages or online posts from Jan. 4 to Feb. 16, according to the FBI. Threats were made against HBCUs , houses of worship and other academic and faith-based institutions, according to the FBI.

    No explosive devices have been found yet. But the FBI is reviewing electronic evidence and has interviewed hundreds of people. The agency has also briefed about 2,800 law enforcement partners and community, education and faith leaders.

    “The FBI is continuing to aggressively investigate the ongoing nationwide bomb threats targeting Historically Black Colleges and Universities, houses of worship, and other faith-based and academic institutions,” the agency said in a statement.

    The threats serve as a reminder of the 1963 bombing of the 16th Street Baptist Church in Birmingham, Alabama, which killed four girls and injured 20 other people.

    The recent flurry of threats coincided with the start of Black History Month on Feb. 1.

    On Tuesday, Attorney General Merrick Garland noted that the Justice Department was established after the Civil War to fight terror and violence preventing Black Americans exercising their rights. He spoke after three white men were convicted of hate crimes in the Georgia murder of Ahmaud Arbery two years ago Wednesday.

    “Modern federal hate crime laws have enhanced the Justice Department’s authority to prosecute violent acts motivated by bias,” Garland said. “Throughout our history, and to this day, hate crimes have a singular impact because of the terror and fear they inflict on entire communities.”…

  72. says

    Ukraine has closed the country’s airspace and has shuttered its airports.

    Putin told Ukrainians to give up their weapons and go home.

    Ukraine says cyberattacks from Russia. are continuing.

    Washington Post:

    The U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday night that Russia has brought the world “to the brink of a conflict that will produce an untold amount of human suffering,” as leaders gathered for an emergency meeting of the U.N. Security Council.

    U.S. Ambassador Linda Thomas-Greenfield said officials believe a “full-scale further invasion into Ukraine by Russia is imminent,” with Russia closing airspace and moving its forces into “combat ready positions.” She also described reports of malware “placed on hundreds of computers and executed on at least some.”

    “This is a perilous moment,” she said. “And we are here for one reason, and one reason only. To ask Russia to stop. Return to your borders.” She joined other countries in condemning Russia’s actions and said its diplomats have “laughed in the face” of human suffering. […]

  73. says


    The Russian leader said Ukraine’s leadership must be changed, and that the country must be ‘demilitarized’ and ‘denazified’

    Calling Ukraine part of Russia’s “historical territory,” Putin said that Russia aimed to change the country’s leadership. […]

    Live on @CNN air- Matthew Chance hears loud explosions in the Capital City of Kyiv. Unclear where they came from- but they happened just minutes after Putin effectively declared war on Ukraine. Moments later Chance put a flack jacket on live on the air.

    Video at the link.

  74. says

    At this hour, every major city in Ukraine is under attack as Russian missiles and bombs targets in Kharkiv, Odesa, and Kyiv. Putin has delivered a pre-recorded message on Russian state media declaring his attention to “demilitarize” Ukraine with a “special military operation.” [Doublespeak]

    Many Ukrainian government websites have been taken down in a series of cyberattacks, as have some news organizations and media outlets. Russia has issued a statement warning that civilian aircraft are not permitted to fly from, or over, Ukraine.

    The simple translation is that Russia is now engaged in all-out war with Ukraine in an attempt to subdue the nation and bring it under Russian control.

    Putin’s speech is filled with threats of retribution for anyone who gets in the way of this assault. In the speech, Putin claims that both the people of Crimea and Donbas decided to “return to their historic motherland”—even though both Crimea and Donbas voted to leave Russia in the only actual election held on the topic. Now Putin is extending the same claim to all of Ukraine. […]


    At an emergency meeting of the UN, the Russian ambassador stood up and ranted about how there is genocide in the eastern regions of Ukraine and Russia has to stop it. The ambassador said Russia tried everything they could to avoid war. What a bunch of claptrap.

  75. says

    Now Russia’s ambassador to the UN is repeating that this is not “war” from Russia, that it is a “special military operation.” More doublespeak.

  76. says

    Missile strikes in Kyiv have been confirmed by Ukrainian officials. That’s according to reporting from journalists on the ground in Kyiv, saying journalists were notified via a WhatsApp group.

  77. says

    From New York Times:

    […] The Ukrainian ambassador, Sergiy Kyslytsya, in an emotional speech at the United Nations Security Council held up his phone and asked the Russian ambassador if he wanted to see the video of President Putin announcing a military attack on his country. “You declare war and it is the responsibility of this body to stop the war,” Kyslytsya said. “I call on every one of you to do everything possible to stop the war or should I play the video of your president declaring the war?” Russian ambassador replied: “This is not called a war, it is called a special military operation in Donbas.” […]

    At the United Nations, the ambassador from Ukraine pointed out the futility of the Security Council meeting, where the NATO allies condemned Russia’s aggressive. “My speech is already useless as of 10 p.m., New York time,” the ambassador, UN Sergiy Kyslytsya, said. “I would like to ask the ambassador of Russian federation to say on the record that at this moment your troops do not bomb and shell Ukrainian cities and your troops don’t enter Ukrainian territories.”

    […] The invasion has begun, the Ukrainian interior ministry said in a statement. Explosions reported in Kyiv, Kharkiv, Kramatorsk and other parts of the country.

    […] At the U.N. Security Council, Russian Ambassador Vasily Nebenzya said the “suffering” of the four million people of the Donbas region justifies the Kremlin’s actions in Ukraine.

    […] Large explosions were visible near Kharkhiv, Ukraine’s second-largest city, minutes after the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, delivered a speech declaring the beginning of a military operation in Ukraine. The Times’s Visual Investigations team verified the location of the explosions, which were captured on a webcam just outside Kharkhiv. […]

  78. says

    Richard Engel reports only distant explosions heard, and infrequent explosions. Power still on where he is. No “shock and awe” campaign from Russia.

    Lot’s of reporters are repeating that Putin is lying when he claims the Ukraine is being run by Nazis.

  79. says

    SC @117, unfuckingbelievable.

    Confirmation again that cruise and ballistic missile strikes are underway in Kyiv, where “control centers” are being hit.

  80. Hj Hornbeck says

    I may loathe this man, but he’s in a position to know.

    To clarify what is underway is a full scale & comprehensive military assault throughout #Ukraine

    Airborne & amphibious landings,missile strikes from air,ground & naval forces, electronic & cyber attacks & a large ground force to occupy a large swath of territory

  81. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine confirms Russia’s ‘full-scale invasion’

    Ukraine’s foreign minister Dmytro Kuleba has confirmed Russia’s “full-scale invasion” of Ukraine.

    Putin has just launched a full-scale invasion of Ukraine. Peaceful Ukrainian cities are under strikes.

    This is a war of aggression. Ukraine will defend itself and will win. The world can and must stop Putin. The time to act is now.”

  82. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Guardian’s Luke Harding is in Ukraine where president Volodymyr Zelenskiy is currently addressing the nation.

    Zelenskiy says Russia has carried out missile strikes on Ukraine infrastructure and on Ukrainian border guards with explosions being heard in many cities across the country.

    He added that he spoken with US president Joe Biden, and told Ukrainians to stay home and to stay calm: “The army works. I will be with you all the time. Stay strong. We will win because we are Ukraine. Glory to Ukraine”

    Zelenskiy also said Ukraine will introduce martial law on all territories of the state, Reuters reports.

  83. says

    Air raid sirens are now going off in Kyiv. People are fleeing the city.

    Luke Harding tweeted: “Our basement in Kyiv now filling up with families with small children. The kids are holding colouring books. Heartbreaking”

  84. says

    UPDATE: Top House GOP members on Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intel committees avoid Biden blame in joint statement: ‘Every drop of Ukrainian and Russian blood spilled in this conflict is on Putin’s hands, and his alone’.”

  85. unclefrogy says

    this is all pretty disturbing to say the least.
    I saw the members of The Circus of the late show and it was the first time I actually heard some one say the Putin was not insane I am not a psychologist I do not know but something is wrong with a guy who has to have such a huge supper luxury ship for himself and huge palaces for himself and kill his rivals at will at least it looks that way to me.
    the other thing that occurred is what is it with these conservatives?
    Putin is a conservative reaching back to try and rebuild the great russian empire, like the U,S, conservatives who also want to bring back some time from the past. It is hard to find a time in our past seeing as it is rather short.
    This is not the 18th or 19th century that time of empire is over no one wants to go back to the reality of then none of them want to abandon all the wonders of the modern world to steam trains and horse drawn wagons.
    I do not think you can have the modern world without the prosperity of the people and you can not have that and stability any more with despotism. The people you need to keep the game going will not tolerate it
    you can not bring back some selective fantasy idea of the past it is not real.
    I think we may be getting close to dumpster leaving the country he has an invite from Viktor orban to hungry. we will see
    “Kim” Philby comes to mind

  86. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Ukraine urges Turkey to close Russian access to Bosphorus

    Ruth Michaelson

    Ukraine has requested that Turkey close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles straits to Russian warships, which use the passages to enter the Black Sea, reports the Guardian’s Ruth Michaelson.

    Turkey alone controls the straits according to the 1936 Montreux Convention, which stipulates that warships belonging to nations bordering the Black Sea may pass through, while others may pass for a limited time only if they satisfy certain conditions mostly based on tonnage.

    According to Turkish outlet Hurriyet, Ukraine’s Ambassador to Ankara Vasyl Bodnar reiterated the request to halt Russian access to the straits at a press conference this morning: “We conveyed our official request to the Turkish side regarding the closure of the airspace, the Dardanelles [Strait] and Bosphorus [Strait] for Russian ships,” he said, adding that Ukraine is also requesting that Turkey sanction Russian business and a wider request for Turkish support. He added:

    We call on you to prevent the aggression in question. Today, Ukraine is protecting your security.

    Turkey, a Nato member and ally of both Ukraine and Russia as well as a major recipient of Russian natural gas, is attempting to appease both sides of the conflict despite recently strengthening ties with Ukraine including through weapons sales….

  87. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    EU vows “massive” sanctions on Russia

    The European Union has pledged to impose “massive” sanctions that have severe consequences on Russia.

    A statement just issued by the European Council, ahead of emergency talks between the EU’s 27 leaders on Thursday night, said:

    We condemn in the strongest possible terms Russia’s unprecedented military aggression against Ukraine. By its unprovoked and unjustified military actions, Russia is grossly violating international law and undermining European and global security and stability.

    We also condemn the involvement of Belarus in this aggression against Ukraine and call on it to abide by its international obligations.

    We demand that Russia immediately ceases military actions, unconditionally withdraws all forces and military equipment from the entire territory of Ukraine and fully respects Ukraine’s territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence. Such use of force and coercion has no place in the 21st century.

    We will meet later today to discuss this blatant aggression and agree in principle on further restrictive measures that will impose massive and severe consequences on Russia for its action, in close coordination with our transatlantic partners.

    The EU also said it stood “firmly by Ukraine and its people as they face this war”, with promises of further political, financial and humanitarian assistance.

  88. says

    Guardian – “Belief in QAnon has strengthened in US since Trump was voted out, study finds”:

    The QAnon conspiracy myth movement continues to thrive in the US and has even strengthened more than a year after Donald Trump left the White House, according to the largest ever study of its followers.

    Some 22% of Americans believe that a “storm” is coming, 18% think violence might be necessary to save the country and 16% hold that the government, media and financial worlds are controlled by Satan-worshipping pedophiles, according to four surveys carried out last year by the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI) think tank.

    Each of these baseless and bizarre views is a core tenet of QAnon, an antisemitic internet conspiracy theory which held that Trump was waging a secret battle against a cabal of pedophiles and its “deep state” collaborators – a “storm” that would sweep them out of power.

    Yet despite his election defeat by Joe Biden, major social media platforms banning QAnon activity and the disappearance of its leader, “Q”, the movement has not gone away. If anything, it has strengthened.

    “The share of QAnon believers has increased slightly through 2021,” the report by the PRRI states. “In March, 14% of Americans were QAnon believers, compared to 16% in July, 17% in September, and 17% in October.

    “The share of QAnon doubters has remained relatively steady (46% in March, 49% in July, 48% in September, and 49% in October), while the share of QAnon rejecters has decreased slightly from 40% in March to 35% in July, 35% in September, and 34% in October.”

    These findings are based on 19,399 respondents from four surveys designed and conducted by the PRRI during 2021, using random samples of adults in all 50 states.

    Natalie Jackson, research lead, said: “People who are susceptible to believing in these conspiracy theories are found in every demographic. It’s not just restricted to Republicans or the uneducated or those who are in a specific age group. It’s distributed throughout.

    “Of course, there are some groups that are more prevalent than others, like there are many more Republicans than Democrats, but we do find that people in every demographic find these wild conspiracies believable.”

    Among the discernible patterns, about one in five QAnon believers identify as white evangelical Protestants, and QAnon believers are significantly less likely than all Americans to have college degrees.

    Media consumption is the strongest independent predictor of being a QAnon believer. Americans who most trust rightwing news outlets such as the One America News Network and Newsmax are nearly five times more likely than those who most trust mainstream news to be QAnon believers. Those who most trust Fox News are about twice as likely as those who trust mainstream news to be QAnon believers.

    They generally have positive views of the Republican party and negative views of Democrats, with 68% agreeing in the October survey that “the Democratic Party has been taken over by socialists”….

  89. says

    From Meduza’s liveblog:

    Russia’s federal censor orders news media to report information only from official Russian sources

    Roskomnadzor informs the mass media that it is required, when preparing materials and publications concerning the conduct of the special operation in connection with the situation in the Luhansk People’s Republic and Donetsk People’s Republic, to use information and data received only from official Russian sources.

    The federal agency says media outlets can be fined for the dissemination of “false information” and their publications can be blocked in Russia.

    Friday’s edition of the independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta will be released in two languages: Russian and Ukrainian. In a video shared on social media, Nobel laureate and editor-in-chief Dmitry Muratov condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and expressed his newsroom’s shame and sorrow. “Only an anti-war movement of Russians can save lives on this planet,” said Muratov.

    More than 140 municipal deputies from cities across Russia have signed an open statement condemning Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. “This is an unparalleled atrocity for which there is no and cannot be any justification,” reads the text.

    Czech President Miloš Zeman has acknowledged that he mistakenly believed Vladimir Putin wasn’t “crazy enough” to attack Ukraine. He is now calling on the international community to isolate this “madman” and defend itself “not only with words but also with concrete measures.”

    In recent years, Zeman has been one of the Kremlin’s most sympathetic voices in Europe. For example, he has repeatedly criticized economic sanctions against Russia and called for the normalization of relations between the West and Moscow.

  90. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Johnson says UK and its allies will ‘hobble Russian economy’ with sanctions

    Prime Minister Boris Johnson has said the UK will respond with “a massive package of sanctions” that will “hobble the Russian economy”.

    Ukraine is a country that for decades has enjoyed freedom and democracy and the right to choose its own destiny. We and the world cannot allow that freedom just to be snuffed out. We cannot and will not just look away …

    Today, in concert with our allies, we will agree a massive package of economic sanctions designed in time to hobble the Russian economy.

    And to that end, we must also collectively cease the dependence on Russian oil and gas that for too long has given Putin his grip on western politics.

    Our mission is clear; diplomatically politically, economically, and eventually, military, this hideous and barbaric venture of Vladimir Putin must end in failure.

  91. says

    Alexander Vindman:

    Russia’s first actions are hit or miss. It’s not looking as bad as I would have thought. Fewer cruise missile & air strikes. An early use of ground forces without reducing Ukraine’s military.
    We will learn a great deal about the Russian military. It seems weaker than suspected.

  92. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Prominent human rights activists Marina Litvinovich was arrested outside of her home in Moscow. Earlier, she put out a call for people in Russia to take to the streets this evening for a nationwide protest against the war.

  93. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ireland’s taoiseach has described Russia’s attack on Ukraine as “an outrageous and moral breach of the most fundamental principles of international law”.

    In a televised address, Micheál Martin described the invasion as “immoral and totally beyond comprehension”.

  94. says

    (Correction to #145: Lithuania’s president.)

    A handful of anti-war protestors has gathered outside Ukraine’s embassy in Moscow aaaaaand they’re arrested.”

    Russia’s Federal Investigative Committee has issued a special (extra) warning to ‘unpermitted’ anti-war demonstrators.”

    Lest you thought no one in Russia is doing anything: 170 Russian journalists and IR experts have signed an anti-war statement. @ElenaChernenko leading on initiative that might lack immediate impact, but is hugely important nonetheless.”

  95. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    President’s office: Russia’s goal is to occupy territories, remove Ukrainian authorities.

    According to Zelensky’s office, Russia will try to get rid of the legitimate Ukrainian authorities, install a puppet government and have it sign some bilateral agreement with Russia.

  96. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    At a meeting of EU ambassadors held in Brussels to discuss the next steps, it is understood that there is a consensus on the need for a major package of sanctions across the financial and energy sectors and including export-controls on key components.

    But sources said Italy, Germany and Cyprus – dubbed the “incrementals’” – still want to leave some proposed sanctions out of the EU package tonight. There is further concern that a number of key oligarchs will be left out of the punitive measures, a diplomat said.

    Some member states want the EU to make public the full scope of the package within hours. France and Germany are said to be “actively pushing to slow down the sanctions train so that leaders can present it themselves tonight”.

    For the love of fuck!

    Here is a view from a former prime minister of Finland, Alexander Stubb:

    After the full scale Russian attack on Ukraine this morning, the EU should impose full scale sanctions. This is the ”whatever it takes moment of European sanctions policy”. No excuses. No exceptions. This is a defining moment for #EUCO.

  97. says

    Moscow seems to have seriously expected large numbers of Ukrainian soldiers to lay down their weapons and abandon their posts. I don’t know what will happen if and when the occupation expands, but this seems like one of the Russian authorities’ many delusions.”

    There was reporting several hours ago that the Russian equipment is painted with Zs and that they were telling Ukrainians to paint theirs with Zs if they wanted to signal they’d switched sides. It’s a fantasy world.

  98. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    A petition to stop the war with Ukraine started by prominent Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev has gathered nearly 125,000 signatures in a matter of hours.

  99. says

    Dmytro Kuleba:

    Right now, Putin is plunging Europe into its darkest time since 1939. Any government hoping to sit this out is naïve. Don’t repeat mistakes of the past. Hit Russia with severe sanctions now. Help Ukraine with military and financial support. Together we can #StopRussianAggression.

    The Russian bots and trolls are out in full force on Twitter. They sound increasingly like Turkish bots and trolls – vicious, arrogant, menacing.

  100. blf says

    SC@94, “Tuckyo Rose also continues to broadcast pro-Putin propaganda tonight.”

    Nuts! This morning I coined “Tokyo Tucker”, but refrained from using it, as neither the Japanese, Toyko, or the WW ][ warlords are involved. I do like “Tuckyo Rose”, however, which neatly avoids my qualms about my own coinage whilst still making a valid point…

  101. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    EU to sanction Belarus for supporting Putin’s invasion – leak

    EU leaders will call for sanctions against Belarus for its role in supporting Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to a leaked summit text.

    A draft statement seen by the Guardian, to be finalised by EU leaders meeting later on Thursday night, condemns “the involvement of Belarus in this aggression against Ukraine” and calls on Minsk to abide by its international obligations.

    The document states:

    The European Council [of EU leaders] calls for the swift preparation of a further sanctions package that will also cover Belarus.

  102. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Ukraine’s President Zelensky confirms reports that Russian forces are trying to seize the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant.

    OVD-Info reports that more than 196 people in 26 Russian cities have been detained at anti-war protests so far today.

  103. blf says

    Iraq unveils restoration work at ancient city ravaged by IS[daesh] (quoted in full):

    Iraq unveiled three monumental sculptures in the ancient city of Hatra Thursday, newly restored after being vandalised by militants of the Islamic State group[daesh] during their brief but brutal rule.

    The jihadists released video footage in 2015 of their orgy of destruction at Hatra in which they took guns and pickaxes to the once extensive remains of what was one of the leading trade entrepots between the Roman and Parthian empires in the first and second centuries AD.

    A Roman-style sculpture of a life-size figure and a series of reliefs of faces on the side of the great temple were among the restored pieces shown off to journalists.

    “IS destroyed everything that was important in this city,” senior antiquities official Ali Obeid Sholgham told AFP.

    Provincial antiquities chief Khair al-Din Ahmed Nasser said works of art were “ripped out and shattered — we found fragments all over the site”.

    “We recovered some pieces, Others which were missing we replaced with the same type of stone.”

    The restoration work at Hatra is being carried out by Iraqi experts in collaboration with Italy’s International Association for Mediterranean and Oriental Studies with funding from the International Alliance for the Protection of Heritage in Conflict Areas.

    IS[daesh] filmed similar acts of destruction by its militants in Mosul Museum, 100 kilometres (65 miles) northeast of Hatra, and in Palmyra in neighbouring Syria.

    Iraqi government forces retook Hatra in 2017, several months before claiming victory over the jihadists who swept through much of the north and west of the country three years earlier.

    Iraq’s ancient heritage had already been hit by a wave of looting of museums and ancient sites in the aftermath of the US-led invasion of 2003.

    A few images at the link.

  104. says


    I will not be diplomatic on this. Everyone who now doubts whether Russia should be banned from SWIFT has to understand that the blood of innocent Ukrainian men, women and children will be on their hands too. BAN RUSSIA FROM SWIFT.

  105. blf says

    Readers reveal: What makes the quality of life in France so high (possibly paywalled):

    Food: Unsurprisingly, French cuisine is seen as a key benefit by many of the country’s foreign residents. […]
    Pace of Life: Another common theme among our readers is an appreciation for [… the] “relaxed pace of life”. […]
    Public services: Many of you said that state-managed services were run highly effectively in France. […] Americans, in particular, were also keen to highlight France’s incredible health system. […]
    Politics: […] “I don’t have to live in a country that would elect Donald Trump president, or even a corrupt half-wit like George W Bush” […] “No Brexit, less racists” […]
    Friendliness: Perhaps surprisingly, at least for those living in Paris, the friendliness of the local population was also frequently mentioned as a key advantage of life in France. [… the seeming lack of “friendliness” might be part of the reason I tend to dislike Paris –blf]

    The mildly deranged penguin is unhappy she wasn’t mentioned. Nor was (at least in the article) specifically cheese, or MUSHROOMS!, also upsetting her. Fortunately, neither were peas nor teh evil equine empire…

  106. says

    Biden’s policy toward Russia was (and is) the right one

    Republicans have been quick to condemn President Biden’s foreign policy toward Russia and Ukraine. It’s less clear what they don’t like about it.

    The Republican Party may not have a clear and consistent position on Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, but the GOP is speaking with one voice on a core belief: As the international crisis intensifies, now is the ideal time for Republican to disparage their own country’s president and blame him for the war.

    As The Washington Post’s Paul Waldman summarized:

    The GOP critique is both blessedly free of substance and plays right into the anxieties about manhood that determine approximately 75 percent of everything Republicans do these days. So whether you’re a Putin fanboy or a cold warrior, you can agree that the real problem here is weakness. Why is this crisis happening? Because Biden is weak. What should America do now? Not be weak, because Biden is weak. Is your favorite baseball team going to win the pennant this year? They would, if Biden wasn’t so weak.

    What’s far less clear is what, exactly, Republicans don’t like about President Joe Biden’s foreign policy.

    Indeed, just this week, the entire House GOP leadership, along with the top Republicans from the Foreign Affairs, Armed Services, and Intelligence committees, issued a joint statement calling on the White House to take a variety of steps in response to Russian aggression.

    The GOP lawmakers appeared largely indifferent to the fact that the Biden administration had already taken those steps.

    The Democratic president has helped rally our international partners and strengthened the NATO alliance. Biden has also kept Putin off-balance by telegraphing the Russian leader’s every move. The White House has announced one round of sanctions, will soon announce many more, and persuaded our allies to follow our lead.

    As a result, Putin is recognized internationally as the isolated aggressor who unified his critics, while damaging his country’s diplomatic and economic standing.

    So how is it that Republicans concluded that Biden screwed this up?

    […] Even the idea that earlier sanctions would’ve made a difference is unpersuasive. For one thing, Biden was determined to give Putin an off-ramp. For another, if the U.S imposed harsh sanctions before the invasion began in earnest, it would’ve been easier for the Kremlin to say it was responding to Western aggression.

    Some are likely to argue that the White House’s policy should nevertheless be seen as a failure because of the bottom-line results: The American president tried to prevent Russia’s attack, and the attack happened anyway.

    But Dan Drezner, a professor of international politics at Tufts, had a related analysis this week, explaining, “It’s possible to implement the best policy and still lose.”

    Drezner added, “Biden did almost everything right, and has worsened Putin’s strategic situation. Nonetheless, everyone will lose in the coming weeks.”

  107. blf says

    Solidarity, sanctions or NATO-blaming: What French presidential candidates say about Ukraine (possibly paywalled):

    Emmanuel Macron: [… The current French President] reacted angrily to the Russian invasion, taking to Twitter to demand: “Russia must immediately put an end to its military operations.” [… He] has supported sanctions Western on Russia.

    In 2019, he described NATO as “brain dead” — but he was suggesting strengthening and reforming the organisation, not withdrawing from it.

    Marine Le Pen: [The best-known nazi candidate] condemned the invasion of Ukraine [… saying] that to bring about peace, any notion that Ukraine could one day join into NATO should be dismissed — in line with the wishes of Putin.

    [She and her family’s mafia, teh le penazis] has borrowed tens of millions of euros from Russian banks and she is said to have a good personal relationship with Putin, who she has met several times.

    Russian state media is largely positive in its coverage of Marine Le Pen, who has previously spoken out against sanctions on Russia and argued that there was no Russian invasion of Crimea.

    One of her campaign pledges is to withdraw France from NATO.

    Valérie Pécresse: [The] rightwing candidate for the centre-right Les Républicains party […] supports “targeted sanctions” on Russia and has voiced support for Ukraine. […] As a teenager, Pécresse attended communist youth camps in the USSR and learned to speak Russian (she is now fluent).

    Her former mentor, 2027 [sic] presidential candidate François Fillon [see below] has drawn widespread condemnation in France for his statement that appears to support Putin.

    Éric Zemmour: [… Teh even more extreme nazi] has argued against sanctions on Russia […] and described the current crisis as the result of a Western / NATO led expansionist policy that has ignored the legitimate security concerns of Russia. […] He would like France to withdraw from NATO altogether.

    Jean-Luc Mélenchon: The most popular left-wing candidate in France’s upcoming presidential election […] called for an immediate end to the invasion on Thursday but has been vague on the details.

    One of Mélenchon’s campaign pledges is to withdraw France from NATO. […]

    Yannick Jadot & Anne Hidalgo: The Green candidate Yannick Jadot has called for “extremely severe” sanctions on Russia.

    He has also organised a protest outside the Russian Embassy in Paris to show solidarity with the Ukrainian people.

    Meanwhile Parti Socialiste candidate Anne Hidalgo has described the invasion of Ukraine as a “violation of international law” and called for France to react “firmly”.


    Former Prime Minister — and 2017 presidential candidate — François Fillon, attracted widespread condemnation when he blamed the invasion on the West’s refusal to take into account Russia’s demands about the expansion of NATO.

    Fillon, who lost out on the 2017 presidential race after becoming embroiled in a corruption scandal, currently sits on the board of directors for a Russian petrochemical company called Sibur.

    Meanwhile Pécresse is going to have to distance herself from her close supporter, the former French PM, who is now paid by a petrochemicals company run by a Putin ally.

    Meanwhile, former President François Hollande has criticised other candidates challenging Macron for the presidency, over their position on Russia.

    “They always find extenuating circumstances every time Vladimir Putin advances and commits acts in violation of international law,” he said, on BFMTV.

    “Jean-Luc Mélenchon wants France to leave NATO, Éric Zemmour just as much. I am not comparing them but they have the same positions. Marine Le Pen too.”

       There was a report recently — sorry, I cannot find it now — that Le Pen had suspended her presidential campaign to concentrate on collecting the required number of signatures, they are apparently about 100 short of the 500-or-so needed to get on the ballet. (Zemmour is also having similar problems.) The final deadline is something like 1st March…

  108. says

    Followup to SC’s comment 146.

    On Finland And Sweden’s Weird NATO Relationship

    NATO general-secretary Jens Stoltenberg announced that Finland and Sweden would both be participating in NATO’s virtual emergency summit tomorrow, sparking chatter online about the possibility of the two countries joining the alliance.

    Finland is the only E.U. country bordering Russia that isn’t part of NATO, and neither is its Western neighbor, Sweden (though both Nordic countries, like Ukraine, are partners with the organization). Though there isn’t an official agreement in place, it’s likely that, for cultural and geographic reasons, both countries would join NATO together if one decided to become a member.

    Given the fact that until it achieved independence in 1917, Finland was a Grand Duchy of Russia (albeit an autonomous one), plus the fact that the Soviet Union had tried to invade Finland in the Winter War of 1939 to 1940, it may seem at first glance that Finland could be a target in Putin’s “Mother Russia” plot. So NATO membership might look tempting for the Finns, right?

    Not so fast: While Finnish Prime Minister Sanna Marin said on Thursday that it’s “now clear that the debate on NATO membership in Finland will change,” the fact is that Finland has been resistant to joining NATO for several reasons (besides the fact that it could piss off Russia). Finns deeply value their independence and prefer to stay neutral during conflict (as do Swedes), and they don’t want to be obligated to participate in whatever conflict powerful NATO states (read: the U.S.) may end up involved in. And historically speaking, Finns don’t have much reason to trust that other countries will have their backs if they come under attack (they pulled off their astonishing defeat of Soviets’ invasion attempt completely alone).

    Swedish Prime Minister Magdalena Andersson also reaffirmed her nation’s refusal to join NATO on Thursday as well.

    Still, given Russia’s demand that Ukraine not be allowed to join NATO, it’s possible that Putin’s plot will backfire, as other countries contemplate seeking NATO membership.

  109. says

    Republican sabotage of the Biden administration is coming back to bite all of us

    Last week, a divided Senate prevented a bipartisan push for the “mother of all sanctions” against Russia for its escalating aggression against Ukraine. The impasse in part was due to Sen. Ted Cruz (R-TX) demanding sanctions on Nord Stream 2, the Russian gas pipeline. The Biden administration was then in talks with Germany and NATO allies about their response to Russia, and Democrats were siding with the administration, opposing the sanctions pre-invasion because they were concerned about alienating Germany.

    So instead of a strong sanctions bill (with or without Nord Stream 2), the Senate sent the equivalent of a sternly worded letter telling Putin he’d better not do it. What was lost were immediate penalties on Russian officials and entities, with further sanctions promised should the invasion occur, as well as an authorization for President Joe Biden to dust off the 1941 Lend-Lease Act to lend military equipment to Ukraine. The larger loss was the projection of a unified United States government that would respond swiftly and harshly to a Russian invasion of Ukraine. And here we are.

    Most establishment Republicans (if such a thing exists anymore) have been quick to condemn Russia, though most have also used the occasion to criticize President Biden for being weak and allowing Putin to invade. That is, again, telegraphing to Russia and our allies that Biden doesn’t have a united Congress behind him, a dangerous message. (By the way, Cruz—the Nord Stream 2 sanction hawk—spent the early hours of the invasion hanging out with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago, while Trump was praising Putin. “Trump said Putin is smart,” Trump said, using the royal third person. “He’s taken over a country for $2 worth of sanctions. I’d say that’s pretty smart.”)

    Now that the invasion has happened, there’s reluctant unity with Republicans in support of strong sanctions against Ukraine. But it’s not a given that the Senate can overcome the Republicans’ internal divisions and desire to make mischief against Democrats and Biden in this crisis. Like the odious Sen. Josh Hawley (R-MO), who has been arguing: ”We shouldn’t be trying to build a liberal empire abroad, we shouldn’t be trying to be the world’s policemen, we need to act what’s in the best interest of America’s national security, economic security.” […]

    As we’ve seen over and over again, the likes of a Cruz, or Hawley, or Rand Paul, or Mike Lee can hang up the Senate for weeks. It only takes a single trouble-making senator to halt action on the floor, and there’s critical action ahead for the Senate, which is scheduled to come back into session next Monday.

    That could include a supplemental spending bill to provide assistance to Ukraine, as well as additional sanctions or just a vote to back Biden up on sanctions he imposes. The supplemental bill has been especially pushed by Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) .“As Putin tries to dismember NATO, we need to try to make it stronger,” Graham said. “The emergency supplemental needs to help our allies and provide more assistance to Ukraine. We need to create a mechanism for Putin and his cronies to pay a heavy price to deter further aggression.” (By the way, Graham also spent Wednesday evening with Trump.)

    […] Minority Leader Mitch McConnell is also pushing aid to Ukraine. “The United States and all friends of Ukraine must ensure a pipeline of support, including arms, flows to Ukrainians resisting Russian aggression,” McConnell said. “We must also shore up NATO’s defenses along its eastern flank and make clear that aggression against NATO countries will be met with an overwhelming collective response.”

    This spending bill would provide lethal aid to Ukraine, help the Defense Department fund troop deployments to NATO countries to the north and the west of Ukraine, and give assistance to Ukraine’s neighbors for refugees.

    Here’s the thing, though: The Department of Defense is still operating under a budget passed in 2020. It is still functioning under the policies imposed by that last Trump budget, which includes Afghanistan war operations. Which no longer exist. The Pentagon is still saddled with these policy and budget restrictions because Republicans have not allowed spending for fiscal year 2021 (which is more than one-third over).

    They’ve not allowed that funding, they say, because there’s not enough of an increase for the Pentagon in it. Some irony, huh? The real reason is that they want Biden to have to live with a Trump budget for as long as possible. They see the possibility of regaining the Congress in 2022, and thus having primary budget control and have been working toward the goal of keeping Democrats from ever passing their appropriations.

    How the Senate responds when they return—which should be immediately instead of five days from now—is going to be critically important. It could also be when we see if Republicans are going to finally decide whether to be Americans or be Trumpers.

  110. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The UK will impose the “largest and most severe” package of economic sanctions Russia “has ever seen”, Boris Johnson says.

    The UK prime minister has been addressing the House of Commons, where he said the UK will do its “utmost” to offer support to Ukraine.

    All major Russian banks will be excluded from the UK financial system and a full asset freeze is being imposed on VBT, Russia’s second-largest bank.

    There will be limits on the amount Russians can have in British bank accounts, with asset freezes extended to around 100 more people.

    Airline Aeroflot will be banned from the UK.

    Similar measures will be imposed on Belarus, Johnson added.

    Describing Vladimir Putin as a “bloodstained aggressor who believes in imperial conquest”, the PM said Putin was “always determined to attack his neighbour, no matter what we did”, adding:

    Putin will stand condemned in the eyes of the world and history. He will never be able to cleanse the blood of Ukraine from his hands.

    At least 705 people have been arrested today at anti-war protests that have taken place in 40 Russian cities, the OVD-Info protest monitor said.

    The OVD-Info monitor has documented crackdowns on Russia’s opposition for years.

  111. says

    Mark Sumner’s summary of the Russian invasion of Ukraine so far:

    On Wednesday evening, Russian forces invaded Ukraine. This invasion was not limited to the so-called “breakaway republics,” or even to the Donbas region. It is a general invasion affecting all parts of the nation. Russia has engaged in hours of bombing and shelling of military bases, airports, and major cities. Russian advanced forces have attempted to capture all or part of Kyiv’s international airport to use in landing Russian forces. Both Russian and Belarusian tanks have rolled into Ukraine from multiple locations. An amphibious force has landed at the Black Sea port of Odesa, where heavy fighting is reported.

    The invasion was preceded by a recorded speech from Russian President Vladimir Putin in which he declared the democratically elected government of Ukraine to be a “Nazi junta.” Putin also stated that Russia was going to engage in a “denazification” of Ukraine and has sent messages to Ukrainian soldiers encouraging them to join with Russia in “defeating Nazis as their parents and grandparents did” in World War II. The lie is made particularly vile by the fact that Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy is Jewish. Putin’s speech also included a number of warnings to any nation or group that attempted to interfere in Russia’s takeover of Ukraine.

    […] NATO leaders have moved more forces and more military equipment to neighboring regions, and on Thursday morning ships from multiple NATO allies are moving across the Black Sea. Russian guided missile cruisers are arrayed across the Black Sea in a face-off with U.S., Italian, and French carrier groups, creating a situation in which “incidents” are all too likely. Ukraine is preparing a formal request that Turkey close the Black Sea straits to the passage of Russian ships, which would greatly isolate both the Russian military and commercial vessels.

    Ukraine has greatly expanded its military in the last five years, with over 240,000 troops supposedly in the ranks, 200,000 reserves, and 1 million auxiliaries who have had at least some training. How they will fare against modern, mechanized forces is unknown, but it certainly looks like they’re going to try. […]


  112. blf says

    I had a slightly weird lunch today: I got up about noon, looked at the pile of dirty dishes, and decided, “ah feck it, I’ll go out…” and so went off to one of the better restaurants for breakfast / lunch / brunch… Amusingly, at the same place where I may have been exposed to Covid-19 the first time I got an alert. Anyways… the people (service) and lunch was great, albeit due to the weather, we were all inside (another alert coming? — I hope not!).

    What made it weird was I spent much of the time on the mobile, reading everything I could find on Putin’s invasion of Ukraine. So I found myself enjoying a very nice lunch with friendly helpful service and an excellent vin whilst reading about, and seeing images of, an imperialist aggression to stroke the ego of a madman.

  113. says

    Putin may have awakened another potential opponent:

    […] post-invasion Anonymous policy toward the Putin regime:

    The spokesperson said they were previously “playing nice and not give them an excuse to start a war,” but now that missiles had been fired on Kyiv and elsewhere, “we are taking off the gloves altogether.”

    The hacktivist stated, “Anonymous will formally attack Russian websites or devices later” in retaliation for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Should this prove to be the consensus view of the collective — consensus being required for large Anonymous operations, as members must pool resources (networks of botted computers, etc.) — Putin’s pet hackers may have awakened a formidable opponent. […]


  114. blf says

    Lynna@177 quotes, “[A Russian] amphibious force has landed at the Black Sea port of Odesa, where heavy fighting is reported.”

    Uh, no (possibly): Ukraine has denied an amphibious landing took place. There are reports of missile strikes — and deaths — in the Odessa area, but beyond that, what is happening in that area seems rather confused.

  115. says

    Re comment 184. At least one good social media video. It’s personal and kind of scary.


    I will never be the same. This is stressful and I’m getting old feelings back, like I’ve done this before. This does feel like the way it was when and why we left in the 90s. Like my old PTSD I’ve finally fixed is coming back. I literally only just forgot about those “always on the edge” feelings and actually started worrying about things like bbq grills. I’m crying as I’m typing this because all man deserves to worry about “bbq grills” and not fucking war.
    Hug your loved ones.

  116. says

    blf @185, thanks for the correction. I think there will be a lot of confusion for some time. Conflicting reports and all that.

    SC @182, oh that’s bad. That’s really bad. The Russians will use that airport near Kyiv to fly in more attack forces and equipment.

  117. says

    Followup to the Chernobyl part of SC’s comment 182.

    Russian forces have reportedly taken control of the Chernobyl nuclear site, after brief fighting with Ukrainian troops.

    Ukrainian officials said on Thursday that control over Chernobyl has been lost, according to multiple news outlets.

    Mykhailo Podolyak, adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy, appeared to confirm this development.

    “It is impossible to say the Chernobyl nuclear power plant is safe after a totally pointless attack by the Russians,” Podolyak said, according to Reuters. “This is one of the most serious threats in Europe today.”

    […] As The Associated Press reported, a Ukrainian official said Russian shelling had hit a radioactive waste depository and an increase in radioactivity had been reported.


    This is a developing story. Waiting for more details.

  118. says

    Ukraine tweeted:

    hey people, let’s demand @Twitter to remove @Russia from here

    no place for an aggressor like Russia on Western social media platforms

    they should not be allowed to use these platforms to promote their image while brutally killing the Ukrainian people @TwitterSupport

  119. blf says

    Related to @185, Fox News host corrects Trump after he mistakenly thought US troops were landing in Ukraine as Russia launched its attack:

    ● Trump erroneously said on Fox News on Wednesday that US troops were being deployed in Ukraine.
    ● You told me about the amphibious attack by Americans. You shouldn’t be saying that, Trump said.
    ● “No, those are the Russians,” the Fox News host Laura Ingraham replied.

    Oh, I thought you said that we were sending people in, Trump said, adding, That’ll be next.

    Ingraham was referring to unconfirmed reports of an amphibious assault by Russian forces in the Ukrainian port city of Odesa along the Black Sea, where Russia has been conducting naval exercises in recent weeks. The Ukrainian defense ministry said Russian troops did not descend on Odesa by sea.

    Earlier on the show, Ingraham cut short her interview with Trump after the former president brought up his false claims about the 2020 election.

    Trump had suggested that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine all happened because of a rigged election, adding, This would have never happened.

    I have no idea if hair furor was referring to the State’s or to Ukraine’s elections — or something else entirely (and presumably entirely fictional) — with that weird This would have never happened burbling.

  120. says


    Late last night in America, the breaking news alerts took over the news stations, and early this morning in Ukraine, the sirens started blaring. Vladimir Putin had given the order for the real invasion of Ukraine.

    In the shocker of the century, it turns out Putin’s not just interested in “protecting” a couple of pro-Russian provinces on the east side of the country, and he’s not interested in “peacekeeping.” He’s going straight for the capital of Kyiv. Early explosions also were heard in the cities of Odessa and Kharkiv and we don’t know where else. It’s moving fast.

    If you were watching the news last night, you saw images of traffic at a standstill as Kyiv residents desperately tried to make their way west to “safer” areas.

    BBC Ukraine editor Marta Shokalo explains what it’s really like on the ground there:

    I was awake at night when I got a message from a colleague about Vladimir Putin’s speech announcing an invasion.

    Then immediately the explosions began. I could hear them from my home, and people in different parts of the city started sending messages to our WhatsApp group, about explosions happening close to them. To realise that Kyiv itself was under attack, not the front line in the east of the country, was a big shock.

    There is no safe place in Ukraine any more.

    The biggest fear for ordinary people here is running out of electricity and the internet not working – then we would be really isolated. Another fear is that bridges over the Dnieper river will be bombed, dividing the eastern and western halves of the city. […]

    There are huge queues outside the supermarkets near my home and at ATMs, many of which have run out of money. Some petrol stations too have now run out and closed. There is an air of panic, now that we know the entire country is under attack.

    The roads out of the city are blocked with traffic, but it’s a perilous journey – sitting in long, slow-moving queues of traffic you could easily run out of fuel far from home. Trains are operating, but there are big crowds of people trying to get a seat. Ukrainian airspace is closed, under the martial law introduced by President Zelensky.

    And no, it’s not just military installations Putin is targeting, despite what Russia is saying. Shokalo says “we have photographs of residential buildings in a number of cities around the country that have taken direct hits.” She says the attacks are everywhere, throughout the country:

    The countryside may be safer than the city, but in a country under attack from north, east and south, there is no truly safe place here any more.

    It started with airstrikes. Now the tanks and the soldiers are coming in, from a lot of sides, and people are sharing messages from people inside Ukraine about what’s happening where they are. On Twitter, Julia Davis is a good person to follow, for that and also for all the insane lying shit they are saying on Russian state TV.

    When Putin announced the attacks, he lied and said it was about self-defense, and that he wanted to “de-Nazify” Ukraine. The Times of Israel notes that Ukraine is a country with a Jewish leader, Volodymyr Zelenskyy. But one of the oldest Russian propaganda lies about Ukraine is that is a Nazi country.

    By the way, Ukraine’s official Twitter shared this as the invasion began: [Available at the link, an image of a cartoon character Hitler lovingly caressing Putin’s face.]

    Putin said he was just trying to “protect people who have been subjected to bullying and genocide.” What bullying and genocide? Putin did not show his work, so we’re just gonna call literally everything Putin said projection. He’s an addled murderous thug who runs a failed petrostate that he’s desperately trying to restore to its former “glory.” Of course it’s projection.

    Putin also told Ukrainians to please go home so he doesn’t have to murder them and reminded everybody he has a big nuclear penis:

    Putin urged Ukrainian servicemen to “immediately put down arms and go home.”

    In a stark reminder of Russia’s nuclear power, Putin warned that “no one should have any doubts that a direct attack on our country will lead to the destruction and horrible consequences for any potential aggressor.” He emphasized that Russia is “one of the most potent nuclear powers and also has a certain edge in a range of state-of-the-art weapons.”

    God, what a fucking loser.

    As we said, things are moving fast, even as we’re typing this, but a few themes are emerging. Global markets are going batshit, the price of oil is skyrocketing, and Russian currency is doing the opposite of skyrocketing. Expect today to be filled with calls for sanctions on a bugfuck level we’ve never seen. You’re going to see a lot of people calling for Russia to be removed from SWIFT, the global payments system. […]

    (Personally, we also think it’s time to turn off the fucking lights in Russia and not even pretend like that’s something we don’t have the ability to do. […])

    Shit just got very real. It’s going to be interesting to see how a lot of Republicans start sounding very, very old-school, like we didn’t all just watch them shrug their shoulders while Putin helped their idiot king into office, and then proceed to make up conspiracy theories about how actually Ukraine was the real election meddler.

    Another thing we’ll note here is that US intelligence on this has been spot-on, and it’s good that the Biden administration decided to share our intel with our allies early and often, so everybody could work in concert with the same set of information in front of them. They also made a hell of a lot of it public. The Washington Post published an article on February 11, almost two weeks ago, with the headline “New intelligence suggests Russia plans a ‘false flag’ operation to trigger an invasion of Ukraine.” In the ensuing days, the Biden administration has been accused of overreacting. Apparently not. A week ago, Biden said he was “convinced” an attack was imminent, that Putin had already made the decision, and that they’d go after Kyiv.

    So here we are. And no decent person wants it. The traitorous former president of the United States might be jizzing himself over what his benefactor is doing to Ukraine — seriously, he did it again last night — but there is no rational reason for any of this, and as David Ignatius writes, there are signs even some high-ranking Kremlin figures aren’t totally behind this. Vladimir Putin has invaded a sovereign, peaceful nation with the intention of seizing it and making it Russia again. […]

  121. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    US President Joe Biden has been presented with a menu of options for the US to carry out massive cyberattacks designed to disrupt Russia’s ability to sustain its military operations in Ukraine, NBC News reports.

    Four people familiar with deliberations told the news channel that US intelligence and military cyber warriors are proposing the use of American cyber weapons “on a scale never before contemplated”.

    Among the options are disrupting internet connectivity across Russia, shutting off electric power, and tampering with railroad switches to hamper Russia’s ability to re-supply its forces, three of the sources said.

    One person briefed on the matter said:

    You could do everything from slow the trains down to have them fall off the tracks.

  122. says

    Ah – evidently the Russian government sites aren’t down but merely accessible outside of Russia.

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Czech president, Miloš Zeman, has issued an unequivocal condemnation of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in a dramatic volte face that won widespread praise and surprised his detractors, writes Robert Tait.

    In a televised address, Zeman – who has gained a reputation for being an ally and admirer of Vladimir Putin – called the Russian president Vladimir Putin “a madman” and admitted he had been wrong to dismiss the prospects of an invasion of Ukraine. He called for sweeping sanctions in response, including the expulsion of Russia from the Swift international banking system.

    Zeman said:

    This is an act of unprovoked aggression that needs to be condemned in the strongest possible terms, not just in words, but also in deeds.

    Acknowledging respect for Russia’s culture and the country’s sacrifices during the second world, he added

    That does not mean that I will agree to a foreign army entering the territory of a sovereign state without a declaration of war.

    He said he had studied Putin’s speech justifying the invasion and responded with “a single sentence.

    Perceived or real mistakes, such as the bombing of Yugoslavia or the entry into Iraq, cannot be a justification for mistakes of one’s own.

    Russia’s actions amounted to “a crime against peace,” he said.

    In a remarkable reference to Putin – with whom he has had several warm public exchanges – Zeman said

    The madman needs to be isolated and defended against, not just with words but with concrete measures.

    Zeman, 77, who is recovering from a prolonged bout of ill health, had previously called US predictions of an imminent Russian military attack “an embarrassment to the CIA”. He has previously justified Kremlin policy towards Ukraine, describing the situation following Russia’s 2014 annexation of Crimea as akin to a civil war.

    But the invasion has touched a nerve in Czech public opinion and popular culture, evoking memories of the 1968 Moscow-led invasion by Warsaw Pact forces to crush the Prague Spring. There have also been comparisons to Nazi Germany’s 1938 annexation of German-speaking regions of Czechoslovakia, an action that presaged a full-scale invasion of months later.

    Zeman’s speech won praise from Petr Fiala, the recently-appointed Czech prime minister, who is notably more pro-western than the president.

    Fiala tweeted:

    It is good that the president is aware of the importance of a common approach and that the main political representatives of the Czech Republic speak the same way.

    Jiří Pehe, a Czech political analyst and former adviser to Vaclav Havel, the first president of post-communist Czechoslovakia, also hailed Zeman’s comments, writing on Twitter:

    Thanks to him for that, but his world seemed to collapse.

  123. says

    Debunking the idea that Trump was strong … and that Trump’s supposed strength prevented Putin from invading Ukraine:

    […] Before getting elected in 2016, Trump already showed signs of weakness when it came to his political benefactors in Moscow. During the Republican National Convention, for example, the candidate and his team showed no real interest in the platform’s contents, except to remove language about providing Ukraine with defensive weapons.

    Also before Election Day, Trump touted Putin for having “outsmarted“ U.S. leaders.

    All the while, Trump was seeking, receiving, benefiting from, and lying about Russia’s intervention in the 2016 elections on his behalf.

    During the post-election presidential transition period, Trump spoke openly about easing sanctions on Russia, which roughly coincided with Michael Flynn’s secret communications with Russia, about which he would later lie to the FBI.

    Two weeks after his inauguration day, Trump talked about his “respect” for Putin. […]

    Two weeks later, top members of Trump’s team explored ways to lift sanctions against Russia.

    Trump had only been in office for a few months when he prepared to reward Russia — apparently in exchange for nothing — by giving it diplomatic compounds on American soil that had been taken during the Obama administration.

    The same month, Trump welcomed Russian diplomats into the Oval Office — at Putin’s request — at which time [Trump] revealed highly classified information to his Russian guests for no apparent reason.

    By July 2017, as Congress approved new sanctions against Russia for having attacked our elections, the Trump White House tried to weaken the legislation. The then-president grudgingly signed the bill — not because he supported it, but because it passed by veto-proof margins. He then issued a statement criticizing Congress’ proposal.

    The same month, Trump had a private chat with Putin, after which [Trump] announced plans to partner with Russia on an “impenetrable Cyber Security unit.” [LOL. That still makes me laugh.]

    In August 2017, the Russian government expelled 755 people from the American embassy and consulate staff. Trump responded by “thanking” Putin and saying he “greatly appreciated” the striking diplomatic move.

    In early 2018, after Putin won a sham election, White House officials pleaded with Trump not to congratulate the Russian leader. [Trump] ignored them.

    A few months later, Trump appeared alongside Putin in Helsinki, lashed out at Americans he doesn’t like, and announced that he considered the Russian leader more reliable than his own country’s intelligence agencies. As 2018 neared its end, Trump lifted Russian sanctions.

    In 2019, Trump leveraged military aid to launch an illegal extortion scheme with Ukraine, personally forced out a capable U.S. ambassador in Ukraine, and called for Russia to be welcomed back into the G7.

    During his re-election campaign, Trump also prepared to withdraw U.S. troops from Germany, which also happened to be in line with Moscow’s wishes.

    All the while, Trump criticized NATO, expressed disdain for the European Union, and undermined democracy in the United States — which also put [Trump’s] agenda in line with Putin’s plans.

    Trump’s own director of national intelligence, Dan Coats, suggested to Bob Woodward that he couldn’t shake the suspicion that Trump was beholden to Putin.

    Even now, as many Republicans condemn Russia’s attack on Ukraine, the former American president simply can’t bring himself to do the same. […]


  124. blf says

    A follow-up to KG‘s earlier speculations about Putin’s heath, from the Grauniad’s current hair furor’s controller pisses on Ukraine live blog:

    Is Putin unwell?
    My colleagues Julian Borger in Washington and Angelique Chrisafis in Paris have reported on new questions being raised about [Putin’s] mental status […].

    His decision to voluntarily start a land war, and the “sheer weirdness” of his recent public appearances, has worried leaders and Russia watchers in western capitals, they say:

    They worry about a 70 year-old man whose tendency towards insularity has been amplified by his precautions against Covid, leaving him surrounded by an ever-shrinking coterie of fearful obedient courtiers. He appears increasingly uncoupled from the contemporary world, preferring to burrow deep into history and a personal quest for greatness.

    The French president Emmanuel Macron is well-placed to analyse changes to Putin’s demeanour. Macron once drove a cooperative, if self-conscious, Putin round the gardens of the palace of Versailles in a tiny electric golf cart in the summer of 2017 and welcomed him to his holiday residence at a fortress on the Mediterranean coast the following summer, where Putin descended from a helicopter carrying a bunch of flowers and complemented the Macrons on their tans.

    After Macron held five hours of talks with the Russian leader in Moscow at opposite ends of a 15-metre table, he told reporters on the return flight that “the tension was palpable”. This was not the same Putin he had last met at the Elysée palace in December 2019, Macron said. He was “more rigid, more isolated” and was off on an “ideological and security drift”.

    Following Putin’s speech on Monday, an Elysée official made an unusually bold assessment that the speech was “paranoid”. Bernard Guetta, a member of the European parliament for Macron’s grouping, told France Inter radio on Thursday morning, after military invasion began: “I think this man is losing his sense of reality, to say it politely.” Asked by the interviewer if that meant he thought Putin had gone mad, he said “yes”.


    The Grauniad’s quoting is a bit hard to follow, so the above excerpt may not quite be reproducing their quoting exactly correctly.

  125. says

    Update to #198 – the Kyiv Independent tweeted: “CORRECTION: The report was by Oleksiy Arestovych, an advisor to the president, not by the armed forces.

    He has deleted his initial report and said that the fighting is continuing in Hostomel.”

  126. says

    Kyiv Post:

    President Biden: the US will stop Russia’s ability to finance and grow its military.
    “We’ve now sanctioned Russian banks that together hold one trillion dollars in assets”
    “We’ve cut off one of Russia’s largest banks, which holds one-third of the country’s banking assets.”

    He says the sanctions (which also include those against as-yet-unnamed individuals) will be more powerful than SWIFT, which he acknowledges some European governments (It’s Italy and Germany) aren’t behind. Many Ukrainians seem unconvinced.

  127. blf says

    SC@202, On blocking Russia from Swift, comments “It’s Italy and Germany” as being currently opposed. Yes, but apparently Cyprus (which has(? had?) a scam selling EU passports to Russians) can be added to that list. From Kyiv furious as EU wavers on banning Russia from Swift payment system, a snippet:

    Diplomatic sources suggested that Germany, Cyprus and Italy were among the member states who were the most concerned about taking the measure at this stage, arguing that some leverage needs to be maintained.

    “Someone started a war and we want this war to stop here and now,” one EU diplomat explained of the caution over Swift. “You always need to have some doors open to be able to have a dialogue to stop a war.”

    Germany’s and Italy’s concerns could be legit, but I’m much less convinced about Cyprus. I also wonder about Hungary, due to the pre-invasion behaviour of Viktor Orbán and (pre-invasion) reports of him being awkward about the (pre-invasion) EU(? Nato?) sanctions package.

  128. says

    A thread on the sanctions:

    @POTUS just announced very robust sanctions against Russia

    Bottom line: these are indeed the “swift and severe consequences” that Biden warned about. Banking sector is the main target, but penalties go well beyond and cut across the commanding heights of Russia’s economy

    (1) Sberbank cut off from transacting in dollars
    (2) VTB fully blocked and all assets frozen
    (3) Debt/equity restrictions on vast array of Russia firms, in mining, metals, energy, transportation, logistics
    (4) Unprecedented multilateral export controls on critical tech

    This is a hammer blow against Russia’s financial sector. Both Sberbank and VTB targeted. Biden telegraphed this and made good on the threat

    More surprising is breadth of targets — well beyond just the banking sector. Bottom line: no sector of the Russian economy is off limits

    Someone in the responses linked to a tweet saying: “You can’t do much if you’re on SWIFT but without correspondent banking accounts. You can do more with correspondent accounts and without SWIFT.”

  129. says


    Call with @SecBlinken on ways to stop Russia’s brutal war of aggression against Ukraine. Secretary informed me on the new U.S. sanctions on Russia, as well as plans to deliver new defensive weapons to help Ukraine defend itself. Ukraine holds ground. We need the world to help us.

  130. says

    Kate Davidson, Politico:

    Treasury on new financial sanctions:

    “On a daily basis, Russian financial institutions conduct about $46 billion worth of foreign exchange transactions globally, 80 percent of which are in U.S. dollars. The vast majority of those transactions will now be disrupted.”

    Sberbank (the largest financial institution in Russia) holds the largest market share of savings deposits in the country, is the main creditor of the Russian economy and is deemed by the government of Russia to be a systemically important financial institution …

    “Within 30 days, OFAC is requiring all U.S. financial institutions to close any Sberbank correspondent or payable-through accounts and to reject any future transactions involving Sberbank or its foreign financial institution subsidiaries,” Treasury says.

    Treasury also imposed “full blocking” sanctions on VTB, Russia’s second-biggest bank:

    “This will sever a critical artery of Russia’s financial system. By imposing these sanctions, assets held in US financial institutions will be instantly frozen and inaccessible to the Kremlin.”

  131. blf says

    How is the Ukraine invasion being viewed in Russia?:

    Pro-government circles echo Putin’s line, but criticism of the military’s action grows among public figures and Russians.

    [… a lot of gibberish from supporters of teh madman…]

    Russian Ministry of Defence spokesman Igor Konashenkov […] claimed that the Ukrainian security services are fabricating videos of mass casualties and attacks on civilians.

    We draw the attention of the media that the Security Service of Ukraine is preparing and is already implementing provocations according to the well-known templates of the White Helmets, he said, referring to the volunteer search-and-rescue group in Syria, which the Russian and Syrian governments have accused of staging war crimes for propaganda.

    Their goal is to accuse Russia of supposedly indiscriminate and disproportionate strikes to intimidate the civilian population and broadcast on Western TV channels.

    [… more gibberish…]

    However, outside these pro-government circles, the latest actions by the Russian military have considerably less support.

    As of time of writing, at least 86 journalists, reporters and media figures, mainly from independent outlets, as well as the BBC, had signed a petition condemning Russia’s operation in Ukraine.

    The petition was started by Yelena Chernenko, business reporter for the newspaper Kommersant.

    Meanwhile, more than a hundred municipal deputies from Moscow, St Petersburg, Samara, Ryazan and other cities have signed an open letter to the citizens of Russia, urging them not to take part or stay silent.


    Russian opposition leader Alexey Navalny, who was appearing before a judge for contempt of court, took the opportunity to make a statement.

    “I am against this war. I think this war is designed to divert attention from Russia’s problems, and it will only lead to greater impoverishment,” he said, before being interrupted by the judge. “I consider those who unleashed this war to be bandits and thieves.”

    Large-scale protests are reportedly planned in several Russian cities later on Thursday, and social media images have showed an increased number of single-pickets across the country.

  132. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Human rights activist Marina Litvinovich has been released from police custody in Moscow. She was arrested earlier today while leaving her home after publicly advocating nationwide anti-war protests.

    In what sounds like a heated conversation, Putin just spoke to French President Emmanuel Macron on the phone and offered “exhaustive explanations” for Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Ukraine’s armed forces now claim to have retaken Antonov International Airport, just outside Kyiv. This is a developing story and control of the airport has changed hands repeatedly.

    Over the last few hours, more than 10,000 automatic rifles were distributed to the residents of Kyiv, says Ukraine’s Interior Ministry.

  133. says

    Rolling Stone – “These Are the American Right-Wingers Covering for Putin as Russia Invades Ukraine”:

    As Vladimir Putin ramps up his military offensive against Ukraine, not everyone is upset that the Russian bear is mauling its European neighbor.

    Across the American right, prominent figures from Tucker Carlson and Alex Jones to senate candidate J.D. Vance and CPAC star Tulsi Gabbard, have been cheering Putin on, broadcasting their disdain for Ukraine — or both….

    Much more at the link.

  134. blf says

    Just to a avoid any confusion, Hostomel and Gostomel refer to the same place, also known as Antonov Airport, “located near Hostomel, which is the northwestern suburb of Kyiv”. Hostomel is the Ukrainian name, Gostomel the Russian (well, transliterations of the names as both languages use the Cyrillic, not the Latin, script).

  135. says

    NBC News:

    Former President Barack Obama on Thursday blasted Russia’s “illegal” invasion into Ukraine and urged “every American, regardless of party” to support Biden’s efforts to impose sanctions.

    Obama, in a written statement, also said whatever international economic consequences that arise from sanctions against Russia are a “price we should be willing to pay to take a stand on the side of freedom.”

    “For over the long term, we all face a choice, between a world in which might makes right and autocrats are free to impose their will through force, or a world in which free people everywhere have the power to determine their own future,” he said.

  136. says

    Deborah Haynes, Sky News:

    NEW: Ukraine’s Armed Forces believe more than 60 Russian battalion tactical groups – the equivalent of between 30,000 to 60,000 troops – have been deployed on Ukrainian territory, according to an update on the invasion as of 8pm
    It said the “enemy has an extremely low morale”

    A battalion tactical group doesn’t have a set size. It can range from
    around 500 to 1,000+ troops depending upon the task

    I have to say that everything I’ve seen, limited as that is, leads to the conclusion that the claim of extremely low Russian morale is probably the case, even if it’s also standard propaganda. It could turn out to be an enormous factor in how things play out, particularly if appeals are made to young Russian guys to not be part of this. One aspect of China Miéville’s October that stuck with me were the descriptions of the treatment of Russian soldiers.

  137. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    In a televised address, Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy said he was disheartened after speaking to Western leaders.

    “I see no one,” to fight alongside Ukraine, he said.

    Zelenskiy said that 137 have died so far in the invasion, and 316 wounded.

    Joe Biden briefed Democrats and Republicans in Congress about the crisis in Ukraine, the US White House press secretary Jen Psaki said in a briefing.

    The US president “spent an hour this afternoon on the phone” with leaders she said,

    Members of congress are looking to approve hundreds of millions of dollars in additional military and humanitarian aid for Ukraine. The US has already sent $400m in military assistance to Ukraine since the middle of last year.

    Nancy Pelosi, the Democratic Speaker of the House of Representatives, said lawmakers are looking to provide $600m for “lethal defense weapons”.

    “What we’re doing with Ukraine is making sure that we have humanitarian assistance to help the people, that we have lethal defense weapons going into Ukraine to the tune of $600 million for them to fight their own fight,” Pelosi said.

  138. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    In his grim video statement, the Ukrainian president signalled that his country is facing dire odds. But he also put on a brave face: “We are not afraid. We are not afraid of anything.”

    Having ordered a full military mobilization against the Russian invasion, with all Ukrainian men 18-60 ordered to remain in the country and potentially at ready to fight, Zelenskiy said he’s staying put as well.

    Russian operatives “want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state,” he said. However, “I am staying in the government quarter together with others,” he added.

    Echoing messages from US and international intelligence, Zelenskiy said that Kyiv was a main target for Russia. “We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv,” he said.

    Having asked Nato nations to come to Ukraine’s aid, he said that Ukraine is on its own. “I see no one” to fight alongside Ukrainians, he said.

  139. says

    Laura Rozen:

    I wonder if this will end up being Putin’s undoing, BBC’s Steve Rosenberg reporting on Putin war on Ukraine drawing opposition at home.

    More from Rosenberg: This is not a conflict the Russian people want. It is very much Putin’s war.

  140. says

    Kyiv Independent:

    Almost 24 hours since Russia’s attack began, the Russian government has not made public any Russian casualties, Meduza reports.

    Many photos online show Russian soldiers that have been killed or injured, while Ukraine said repeatedly that Russian forces have great losses.

  141. KG says

    Damn – just heard my son has Covid, having avoided it (like the rest of my family – we’ve been careful, but also, obviously, lucky) for two years. After several days of cold-like symptoms and negative LFTs he took a PCR and got a positive. He’s young, healthy and fully vaccinated including a booster, so his chances of serious illness are small; his partner is negative and symptomless so far, but will of course isolate with him.

  142. blf says

    KG@240, Sad to hear that. The mildly deranged pengiun, the spider that lives behind my LCD, the angry mouse in the Tardis (probably, albeit with them it’s a bit hard to tell though they rarely hurt anything other than peas despite all the squeaking and random sonicing), the cheeseboard, and myself all hope all goes well. The mildly deranged one would send your son and you some cheese, except (1) She’s just ate it, and (2) Due to brexit it’d rot whilst stuck in customs long before it got to you (even when using Trebuchet Ballistic Delivery Services). She’s very sorry, but said it was quite tasty.

  143. says

    Michel Eltchaninoff in the Guardian – “What’s going on inside Putin’s mind? His own words give us a disturbing clue”:

    “They have only one objective: to prevent the development of Russia. They are going to do it in the same way as they did it before, without furnishing even a single pretext, doing it just because we exist.”

    These were Vladimir Putin’s words on 21 February, in his now notorious speech on Ukraine. They repeat the argument already formulated in his speech on Crimea in March 2014: “The politics of the containment of Russia, which continued throughout the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries, continues today. There is a constant attempt to push us back into a corner because we have an independent position, because we stand up for ourselves.” Putin’s vision of Russian history is one of an emergence continually blocked by enemies.

    The contemporary “west”, in this vision, battles to contain Russia out of jealousy. Europe has collapsed into decadence, crushed by the weight of its humanism and political liberalism: tired, divided, at the mercy of every passing wind. The United States, mired in an instrumental, materialist culture and the contradictions of its own history, is in the process of losing its pre-eminence. Russia, by contrast, like its emerging ally, China, is on the rise in civilisational terms.

    Putin leans here on a strange theory advanced by the 20th-century historian and ethnographer Lev Gumilev. The son of two of Russia’s most famous poets, Nikolai Gumilev and Anna Akhmatova, Gumilev maintains that every people possesses a distinct life force: a “bio-cosmic” inner energy or passionate substance that he calls passionarnost….

    In addition to Gumilev, Putin relies on another thinker – a minor figure in the history of Russian thought. Last October, he spoke of regularly consulting a collection of political essays titled Our Tasks, the major work of Ivan Ilyin, who died in 1954. In one of the president’s preferred essays, “What does the world seek from the dismemberment of Russia?”, Ilyin denounces the country’s “imperialist neighbours”, these “western peoples who neither understand nor accept Russian originality”. In the future, he suggests, these countries will inevitably attempt to seize territories such as the Baltic countries, the Caucasus, central Asia and, especially, Ukraine. The method, according to Ilyin, will be the hypocritical promotion of values such as “freedom” in order to transform Russia into “a gigantic Balkans”. The final object is to “dismember Russia, to subject her to western control, to dismantle her and in the end make her disappear”.

    It is necessary, then, to understand that what is actually happening in Ukraine is the result of a vision of Russia that is deeply embedded in the mind of Putin….

    What should we think of this perpetual sense of victimhood that allows the Russian president to artificially create situations in which Russia appears humiliated and insulted. Are these the actions of a rational leader? The answer is both simple and worrying. Putin has developed, over decades, a vision of the world that is paranoid but coherent. According to this vision, Russia has for centuries been the victim of an attempt to contain and dismember it. These attempts must be resisted. The logic of this is based on a belief that Russia’s passionarnost must not be constrained.

    …The president’s worldview paves the way to extremism.

  144. says

    Bill McKibben in the Guardian – “This is how we defeat Putin and other petrostate autocrats”:

    …This is not a “war for oil and gas” in the sense that too many of America’s Middle East misadventures might plausibly be described. But it is a war underwritten by oil and gas, a war whose most crucial weapon may be oil and gas, a war we can’t fully engage because we remain dependent on oil and gas. If you want to stand with the brave people of Ukraine, you need to find a way to stand against oil and gas.

    Russia has a pathetic economy – you can verify that for yourself by looking around your house and seeing how many of the things you use were made within its borders. Today, 60% of its exports are oil and gas; they supply the money that powers the country’s military machine.

    And, alongside that military machine, control of oil and gas supplies is Russia’s main weapon….

    Finally, even the Biden administration – which has been playing its hand wisely in the lead up to the invasion – is constrained by oil and gas. As we impose sanctions, everyone’s looking for an out: the Italians want to exempt high-end luxury goods and the Belgians diamonds, but America has made it clear that it it doesn’t want to seriously interrupt the flow of Russian oil for fear of driving up gas prices and thus weakening American resolve.

    …It’s obviously not an idle fear: as of this morning Tucker Carlson was attacking Russia hawk Lindsay Graham for supporting a conflict that will bring “higher gas prices” while he has a “generous Congressional pension”. If you’re an apologist for fascism, high gas prices are your first go-to move.

    So now is the moment to remind ourselves that, in the last decade, scientists and engineers have dropped the cost of solar and windpower by an order of magnitude, to the point where it is some of the cheapest power on earth. The best reason to deploy it immediately is to ward off the existential crisis that is climate change, and the second best is to stop the killing of nine million people annually who die from breathing in the particulates that fossil fuel combustion produces. But the third best reason – and perhaps the most plausible for rousing our leaders to action – is that it dramatically reduces the power of autocrats, dictators, and thugs.


    These are not novel technologies – they exist, are growing, and could be scaled up quickly….

    It’s not easy – among other things, Russia has a good deal of some of the minerals that help in renewable energy production. (Nickel, for example.) But, here again, the example of the second world war is helpful – with the Axis in control of commodities like rubber, we quickly figured out how to mass produce substitutes.

    It’s true that we could produce carbon free energy with nuclear power too, as long as we were willing to pay the heavy premium that technology requires – and right now Germany is probably regretting its decision to hastily shutting down its reactors in the wake of the Fukushima accident. But if you think about the scenario now unfolding across Europe, you’re reminded of another of the advantages of renewable power, which is that it’s widely distributed. There are far fewer central nodes to attack with cruise missiles and artillery shells – targeting reactors is pretty easy, but driving your tank across Europe from one solar panel to the next so you can get out to smash it with a hammer is comical.

    At the moment, big oil is using the fighting in Ukraine as an excuse to try to expand its footprint – reliable industry ally Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, went on Fox this week to argue that stopping the Keystone XL pipeline had empowered the Russian leader, for instance, and the American Petroleum Institute today called for more oil and gas development. But this is absurd – we may need, for the remaining weeks of this winter, to insure gas supplies for Europe, but by next winter we need to remove that lever. That means an all-out effort to decarbonize that continent, and then our own. It’s not impossible.

    We have to do it anyway, if we’re to have any hope of slowing climate change. And we can do it fast if we want: huge offshore windfarms in Europe have been built inside of 18 months without any wartime pressure.

    We should be in agony today – people are dying because they want to live in a democracy, want to determine their own affairs. But that agony should, and can, produce real change. (And not just in Europe. Imagine not having to worry about what the king of Saudia Arabia thought, or the Koch brothers – access to fossil fuel riches so often produces retrograde thuggery). Caring about the people of Ukraine means caring about an end to oil and gas.

  145. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Ukraine urges citizens to resist as Russian forces enter Kyiv

    Explosions and gunfire have been heard in a northern district of Kyiv, as invading Russian forces closed in, AFP reports from the ground.

    Pedestrians ran for safety and small arms fire and explosions were heard in the Obolonskyi area. The larger blasts could be heard as far away as the city centre.

    As they arrived in Obolonskyi within the city, the Ministry of Defence’s Facebook page urged civilians to resist:

    We urge citizens to inform us of troop movements, to make Molotov cocktails, and neutralise the enemy.

    The mayor of Kyiv says the Ukrainian capital has entered into “a defensive phase”, Reuters is reporting.

  146. says

    Guardian – “‘A flashy theme park’: outcry over Modi’s plans for the Gandhi ashram”:

    …[The Sabarmati ashram] has been at the centre of an outcry over a grandiose plan by the government to redevelop the site into a “world class tourist destination” at a staggering cost of 12bn rupees (£117m). Descendants of Gandhi, historians, scholars, Gandhian institutions and lifelong ashram residents have accused the government, led by the prime minister, Narendra Modi, of attempting to co-opt and politicise Gandhi’s legacy to suit their own Hindu nationalist agenda and turning the Sabarmati ashram into a flashy Gandhi “theme park”.

    “This is the first time any government has actively interfered and imposed their own vision on a Gandhi monument,” said Gandhi’s great-grandson Tushar Gandhi. “This is part of a sinister design by Modi to obliterate Gandhi’s legacy and rewrite the history of India where he and his politics have no place.”

    Under their new development plan – which unusually is being run directly from the prime minister’s office – the ashram site will be expanded to 20 hectares, given a sleek makeover with new Gandhi museums and monuments erected and other structures knocked down.

    Yet the government has faced considerable criticism over a lack of transparency for the redevelopment, including the unilateral appointment of Modi’s favoured architect for all his flagship projects, and lack of consultation with Gandhi scholars and institutions.

    Most worrying for some is the complicated relationship that Modi and the ruling Bharatiya Janata party (BJP) have with Gandhi. During his life, Gandhi was vehemently opposed to the Hindutva [Hindu nationalist] politics now espoused by Modi and the BJP, which believes that India should be a Hindu rather than secular state.

    Nathuram Godse, who assassinated Gandhi, had been a member of the RSS, the right-wing paramilitary organisation that gave rise to the BJP and to which Modi and many BJP politicians also belonged to. Within RSS circles there is still great disdain for Gandhi and under Modi’s premiership, reverence of Godse, Gandhi’s killer, has now become mainstream in India.

    The redevelopment has also faced criticism over the decision to evict the 400 or so families living in the ashram grounds, some whom are descendants of the Dalit families brought there by Gandhi himself. Gandhi left explicit instructions that these families should be allowed to stay in perpetuity and that the ashram should for ever work for the uplift of Dalits, the lowest in India’s caste system who were referred to as “untouchables” in Gandhi’s time.

    For almost two years, the residents protested against their eviction but now over half have accepted what the government described as a “generous” package: either 6 million rupees compensation, or a new four-bedroom high-rise apartment. Yet behind closed doors, several residents spoke quietly of being intimidated and pressured to accept compensation and leave against their will by a small resident’s committee that has ties with the state government.

    One lifelong resident said she was “habituated to live a simple life, like Gandhi ji. I do not know how to live in a high-rise flat away from the ashram and the trees and the river. It makes me very sad to be forced to leave my birthplace.”

  147. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The EU is preparing to freeze the assets of Russia’s president Vladimir Putin and foreign minister Sergei Lavrov as part of a third round of sanctions against Russia, the Financial Times reports.

    Foreign ministers are planning to approve the sanctions package this afternoon, along with a number of measures against Russian banks and industry, the paper quotes three people familiar with the matter.

    Putin and Lavrov will not be subject to a ban on travelling under the measures, the FT writes, underlining the EU’s willingness to keep symbolic diplomatic possibilities open.

    An EU official, speaking under condition of anonymity, told Reuters: “We are moving as quickly as we can,” adding the bloc could also target “many more” oligarchs.

  148. says

    Mediaite – “Holocaust Memorials Condemn ‘Barbarity’ of Russia’s Invasion and Putin’s False Claim to Anti-Nazi Crusade”:

    Two of the world’s most prominent Holocaust memorial sites condemned Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, both for the “megalomania” of Vladimir Putin, and his exploitation of history as a false justification for his military campaign.

    As Russia’s invasion of Ukraine sparks an international crisis and fears of war in Europe, the Auschwitz Memorial released a statement saying “this act of barbarity [sic] will be judged by history, and its perpetrators, it is to be hoped, also by the International Court of Justice.”

    “As we stand at the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial, it is impossible to remain silent while, once again, innocent people are being killed purely because of insane pseudoimperial megalomania,” the statement continued. “At this moment, the free and democratic world must show if it has learned its lesson from the passivity of the 1930s. Today, it is clear that any symptom of indifference is a sign of complicity.”

    The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum also released a statement on Thursday denouncing how “in justifying this attack, Vladimir Putin has misrepresented and misappropriated Holocaust history by claiming falsely that democratic Ukraine needs to be ‘denazified.’ Equally groundless and egregious are his claims that Ukrainian authorities are committing “genocide” as a justification for the invasion of Ukraine.”

    “We strongly condemn this unprovoked attack and are greatly concerned about the loss of life. The Museum stands with the Ukrainian people, including the thousands of Holocaust survivors still living in the country,” said Museum chairman, Ambassador Stuart E. Eizenstat. “These survivors are remnants of one of Europe’s largest pre-war Jewish populations that was almost completely decimated by the Germans in World War II. Having suffered terribly as victims of both Nazism and Communism, Ukrainians today are seeking to fulfill their democratic aspirations.”

  149. blf says

    The Somali general fighting al-Shabab and the patriarchy:

    When Zakia Hussen Ahmed attended her first meeting in the Somali police force as a director of community policing, a junior male officer asked her to “get up and fetch some tea” for him assuming that the 29-year-old was a secretary to one of the senior officers, since she was not in her uniform.

    She decided to use the incident as an opportunity to give a lesson. “I realised whatever step I take next would determine how the rest of the team and senior officers would view me,” Hussen, now 38, said.

    So, she calmly commanded the junior officer — who was shocked as another officer told him she was the new director — to fetch his own tea and bring her a cup too. “He not only got up to give a salute but also went out to fetch his own tea plus an extra cup for me as ordered,” she said.

    In Somalia’s male-dominated security forces, such condescension is a regular encounter for the few female officers. According to Hussen, Somalia has a 14,000-strong police force. Only a tenth of that figure is women, even though a number of younger female officers have joined the force in the last 10 years, serving in various capacities nationwide.


    In the following five years after her role in charge of community policing, Hussen worked in various agencies, including the Criminal Investigation Unit, the Intelligence Agency and the office of the Chief Justice. Most of her work focused on reform, institutional building and police relations with the public.

    In August 2018, Hussen was promoted to brigadier general and appointed as the deputy police commissioner, becoming the first woman to ever achieve the rank in the history of Somalia’s security forces.


  150. blf says

    Editorial in the LA Times, The anti-vax movement was already getting scary. COVID supercharged it:

    Conspiracy theorists’ disinformation has led to the deaths of thousands of Americans every week by discouraging COVID-19 vaccinations. That toll will end up being a tiny fraction of the anti-vax movement’s body count.

    Even when this pandemic is over, an energized base of anti-vaxxers will lead to more deaths for years to come. The uptake of standard childhood vaccines was already declining before COVID-19 hit, leaving more and more children vulnerable to diseases like diphtheria, measles, rubella, smallpox, mumps, tetanus and whooping cough. Since the pandemic began, we’re also seeing more politics-driven attacks on state mandates for pre-school vaccination. Long-vanquished child-killing diseases will rise again, just because parents have been fooled into rejecting safe, long-proven vaccines.

    The anti-vax movement has never been based on science. Its standard methods are similar to ones used by the charlatans who argued that HIV wasn’t the cause of AIDS, or that putting fluoride in the water is harmful. They claim that any opposition to their propaganda must be proof of deep state or big pharma corruption of science and public policy.

    It’s a tired playbook, but it resonates with people whose psychological states leave them susceptible to believing conspiracy theories. One study found that people who believe “9/11 truther” theories are more likely than average to also believe COVID-19 vaccines are dangerous.

    Robert F. Kennedy Jr […] said at a recent rally in Washington: Bill Gates and his 65,000 satellites alone will be able to look at every square inch of the planet, 24 hours a day. And They’re putting in 5G to harvest our data and control our behavior — digital currencies that will allow them to punish us from a distance and cut off our food supply.

    Why would anyone rational take medical advice from him — a lawyer who believes this kind of nonsense? But many do. It doesn’t help when people in positions of power buy in. Sen Ron Johnson […] claimed that vaccinated athletes were dropping dead on the field, an outright fabrication.

    Many anti-vaxxer leaders are glory-seekers and grifters. There’s serious money in play. […] Joseph Mercola, has profited by peddling alternative remedies.

    White supremacists and people with antisemitic views have found a home in the anti-vaccine movement, sometimes seemingly pitching their agenda to groups they hope to hurt. Somali immigrants have been deliberately targeted by anti-vaxxers, as have Black Americans, Orthodox Jews and other religious minorities. How many of the people who fall for anti-vax lies fully understand the various and often perverse agendas behind them?

    [… L]et’s get the courts involved. When words kill, there should be no absolute 1st Amendment protection. Grieving families of dead anti-vaxxers could sue the propagandists they listened to. There’s a model for this as well: Creative lawsuits have forced some white supremacist organizations out of business.

    Since the pandemic began, the US has seen public health professionals resign because of threats from anti-vaxxers, hollowing out infrastructure that’s critical to America’s welfare. We need more aggressive prosecutions of anyone threatening officials and scientists who promote vaccination. The public can help. Internet sleuths have identified hundreds of the Jan. 6 insurrectionists, feeding information to an FBI task force that makes arrests. Anti-vaxxers who threaten public servants are often anonymous — but may be traceable online.

    Here’s another legal avenue: People who make money out of fake vaccination documents are active on social media. Their hubris should land them in prison.

    Rather than letting infractions slide, state licensing boards and professional organizations should accelerate sanctions against physicians and pharmacists who distribute and profit from useless and harmful COVID-19 drugs such as ivermectin and hydroxychloroquine. It’s particularly egregious when they also refuse to prescribe FDA-approved drugs and trash vaccines that actually are effective against COVID-19. […]

  151. quotetheunquote says

    @ SC #233-
    I made the mistake of watching that clip with Joy Behar (The “You almost have to respect Joy Behar’s unwavering commitment toward ensuring that boomers are the most hated generation alive” one). I am normally very reluctant to use the word “literally” in a sentence, but this literally took my breath away how the F does this woman have a job? You’d think a few functioning cells in the cerebral cortex would be a minimum requirement…

    BTW, I’m also a baby boomer, and I indentify with her sense of entitlement not one iota.

  152. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Ukraine’s military reports that more than 1,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. The Russian Defense Ministry recently stated that its military has not suffered any casualties.

    Russian universities and law enforcement agencies have begun to put pressure on students who opposed the war in Ukraine, reports the student journal Doxa.

    A petition opposing the war with Ukraine launched by prominent Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev has gathered more than 500,000 signatures.

    Updates from Central Europe

    – The Czech Republic has stopped issuing residency permits for Russian citizens. Earlier, Prague announced that it had stopped issuing visas to Russian nationals, with the expection of those with special reasons for entry.

    – Poland is preparing to close its airspace to Russian aircraft.

    Air raid sirens are sounding in Kyiv again. Residents are trying to get to shelters as quickly as possible.

    Russia’s censorship agency continues to block news articles about the invasion, this time taking down reports from three Ukrainian news sites.

  153. blf says

    Follow-up of sorts to SC@253, Richard Land Says Biden’s Pledge to Nominate Black Woman to SCOTUS Is Draining the Pool of Qualified Candidates Down to a Foot Wash:

    Land is a longtime religious-right activist who most recently served as president of Southern Evangelical Seminary. Prior to that, he served as president of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission[politburo], but retired under a cloud of controversy in 2012 after Right Wing Watch posted audio of him declaring that race hustlers were using death of Trayvon Martin to gin up the Black vote for President Barack Obama.

    Land, it seems, did not learn anything from that previous controversy.


    Equality should be about excellence, he continued. Equity is about groupthink. If you want to know what equity produces, equity produces Kamala Harris, perhaps the most unqualified vice presidential person since Henry Wallace in Franklin Roosevelt’s third term. This is really appalling. […]

    Spiro Agnew? Dan Quayle? Dick Cheney? Mike Pence? That lot is more qualified than Vice-President Harris!?

  154. blf says

    Putin has pissed off the Irish, which is always a mistake, from the Grauniad’s current teh madman’s war live blog:

    Irish foreign minister Simon Coveney has hit back, after Russia cited Ireland as part of an attempted justification for invading Ukraine.

    Russia’s foreign minister Sergei Lavrov referred to Ireland and the status of the English language, as he accused the west of double standards over Ukraine.

    The response from Dublin was swift:

    Don’t bring Ireland into an argument trying to justify and [sic] unjustifiable war.
    Ireland/U.K. are an example of how 2 countries, with a difficult past, found a way to shape and sustain a peace process, guaranteeing an absence of violence.

  155. says

    BREAKING: In a video conference call last night Ukraine President Zelensky told EU leaders: “This might be the last time you see me alive”, two sources briefed on the call told me”

    Vatican Press Office confirms to @NBCNews that Pope Francis went to the Russian embassy in Rome on Friday to personally express his concern about the war in Ukraine, in an extraordinary papal gesture that has no recent precedent.”

  156. blf says

    ‘Pure Orwell’: how Russian state media spins invasion as liberation:

    Turn on Russian state television on Friday afternoon and you will see little sign that the country’s missiles are pounding the Ukrainian capital.

    Instead, the full force of the country’s state propaganda machine has been mobilised to portray Moscow’s invasion as a defensive campaign to liberate Ukraine, focusing much of its coverage on the alleged protection of the Donbas supposedly under attack by Kyiv.

    Our situation is very concerning. The enemy is attacking our positions, entering civilian houses, said Leonid Pasechnik, leader of the self-proclaimed republic in Luhansk, to the Rossiya-24 channel.

    A breaking news banner on Channel One said that Ukraine launched three missiles at the Donetsk People’s Republic in the last seven minutes.

    The Russian state news mostly follows Vladimir Putin’s narrative on the war […]

    Throughout Friday morning, a Russian assault on the Ukrainian capital was often simply denied.

    Kyiv, as a city where civilians live, hasn’t been bombed by anyone. There hasn’t been any terror there or instructions to cause such terror, said Channel One pundit Artyom Sheinin on Friday, contradicting the myriad of reports that have shown the opposite.

    But as it becomes harder for state media to ignore the full-scale invasion into Ukrainian territory, some channels have started to frame Russian soldiers as eagerly anticipated liberators.

    The people in the city Kharkiv only have one issue with the Russian army: ‘What took you so long?’ said Olga Skabeyeva, one of the country’s most prominent state television hosts.


    Television remains the biggest news source for Russians despite becoming less trusted over the past decade, past polling has found, and 62% of the population say they get their news from television.

    But polls also show that most people under 40 prefer to get their news online and from social media.

    Despite a state crackdown on Russian media, readers can still choose from several independent outlets that have been reporting critically on the country’s involvement in the war, including the popular online platform Meduza and the television channel Dozhd — both recently branded as foreign agents.

    Those who can read English [or other foreign languages (I presume) –blf] are still able to access foreign press, and there are also many popular independent Telegram channels run by journalist turned bloggers.

    [… S]igns are emerging that the Kremlin will try to gain a monopoly on the way Russians perceive events in Ukraine by censoring independent outlets reporting on the war.

    Yesterday, Russia’s media watchdog, Roskomnadzor, demanded that Russian media cite only official information and data, when covering the conflict. The watchdog vowed to immediately block outlets that did not comply with the order.


  157. blf says

    The Taliban Have Called on Russia to Show Restraint in Ukraine. The Taliban.:

    In an irony-free announcement, the Taliban, who violently seized power in Afghanistan last year, called on Russia and Ukraine to resolve the conflict peacefully.


    The Taliban said on Friday that the group is closely watching the developments in Ukraine, and expressed concern over the possibility of “civilian casualties.” In a statement released by the group’s foreign ministry, the Islamists said it will take a neutral position in the conflict.

    “The Islamic Emirate calls for restraint by both parties. All sides need to desist from taking positions that could intensify violence.” said the statement put out by the group’s foreign ministry.

    The Taliban urged both sides to cease clashes and asked them to “resolve the crisis through dialogue and peaceful means.”


  158. says

    So this Zakharova press conference seems to be going well…

    Russia just threatened military consequences against Finland and Sweden.
    They f***** insane.

    Russian foreign ministry spokesperson Maria Zakharova is currently on a furious rant at a Sky News journalist. Calling him “propaganda,” and fuming: “It is not an operation to start a war, it is an operation to end war!”

    The chyron! [“…asked by Sky News: Has Russian President Vladimir Putin gone ‘full tonto’?”]

    Her rant includes all sort of debunked nonsense about mass murder during the Euromaidan. (See: [NYT link at the link])

    The Sky News journalist tried to follow up, and got a few furious “nyets!” She lets him finish, then goes on another rant about Russia being the victim.

  159. says

    More re #261 – Guardian liveblog:

    Russian President Vladimir Putin has urged the Ukrainian army to overthrow its leadership whom he labelled as a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who have has lodged itself in Kyiv and taken hostage the entire Ukrainian people.”

    Addressing the Ukrainian military in a televised address, a visibly angry Putin urged the military to “take power in your own hands”.

    It seems like it will be easier for us to agree with you than this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.

    Putin further repeated his claim that the Ukrainian leadership had been engaged in “genocide” in the Donbas region in eastern Ukraine.

    We are fighting with nationalist groups that are directly responsible for the genocide of the Donbas and the bloodshed of peaceful civilians in the two republics.

    In the address, Putin further accused the Ukrainian “neo-Nazi” leadership of acting like terrorists, by ‘cowering behind civilians’.

  160. says

    Lots of reports, some from Ukrainian leaders, are being quoted by journalists as saying that Russian troops wearing Ukrainian army uniforms have entered the outskirts of Kyiv. Russian troops are posing as Ukrainian soldiers.

  161. blf says

    The Council of Europe has suspend[ed] Russia’s rights of representation (quoted in full):

    In line with the Statute of the Council of Europe, the Committee of Ministers has today decided to suspend the Russian Federation from its rights of representation in the Committee of Ministers and in the Parliamentary Assembly with immediate effect as a result of the Russian Federation’s armed attack on Ukraine.

    The decision adopted today means that the Russian Federation remains a member of the Council of Europe and party to the relevant Council of Europe conventions, including the European Convention on Human Rights.

    The judge elected to the European Court of Human Rights in respect of the Russian Federation also remains a member of the Court, and applications introduced against the Russian Federation will continue to be examined and decided by the Court. Suspension is not a final measure but a temporary one, leaving channels of communication open.

    The Council of Europe, which is independent of the EU (and Nato), is perhaps best known as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR). Three shining beacons of concern for human rights — Belarus, Kazakhstan, and the Vatican — are essentially the only European states not in the Council.

    In addition, apparently there is an Effort under way to challenge Russia’s right to seat on UN security council:

    An effort is under way to isolate Vladimir Putin diplomatically by challenging Russia’s right to a permanent seat of the UN security council on the grounds that Russia took the seat from the defunct Soviet Union in 1991 without proper authorisation.

    Diplomats are also looking to see if there is a basis for removing Russia from [its current] presidency of the council.


    The Ukrainian ambassador to the UN, Sergiy Kyslytsya, told Wednesday night’s meeting that article 4 of the UN charter says the UN is open only to peace-loving states that accept the terms of the charter. He said Russia’s actions showed it could not comply with those terms.

    But he also asked Guterres to distribute to the security council the legal memos written by UN legal counsel dated 19 December 1991 that the Russian Federation be permitted to join the security council as the successor to the Soviet Union. Ukraine claims the constituent republics of the USSR declared in 1991 that the Soviet Union ceased to exist, and with it should have gone the legal right of any of those entities, including Russia, to sit on the council.

    No decision to permit Russia to the security council was ever put to the General Assembly. The UN charter was never amended after the USSR broke up. It still references the Soviet Union, and not Russia, as one of the permanent members of the UN security council.

    By contrast in 1991 China’s entry into the UN was subject to a resolution. A member of the United Nations which has persistently violated the principles contained in the present charter may be expelled from the Organization by the General Assembly upon the recommendation of the security council.


    The Russian diplomatic delegation is working hard to maintain the protection of China, which has been reluctant to abandon Russia, and would never support a motion for expulsion.

    But US officials said, “Russia’s aggressive actions here carry risks for China along with everyone else. It’s not in China’s interest to endorse a devastating conflict in Europe and defy the principles of sovereignty and territorial integrity it claims to hold dear.”

  162. blf says

    This poll is slightly dated (pre-dates the invasion), and I am naturally dubious about the source (tuckyo rose’s employers), More Republicans have negative view of Biden than of Putin, poll finds:

    More Republicans have a negative view of Joe Biden than of Vladimir Putin and more Democrats have a negative view of Donald Trump than of the Russian leader, according to a new poll.


    Fox News released the poll, which it said was carried out before Russia invaded Ukraine.

    It said 92% of Republicans had a negative view of Biden while 81% had a negative view of Putin. Among Democrats, 87% had a negative view of Trump and 85% a negative view of Putin.


  163. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    The World Chess Olympiad, which was supposed to take place in Russia in this year, will be taking place somewhere else, reports RIA Novosti.

    The Kherson regional administration reports that they have lost control over the entrance to the city of Kherson.

    The daughter of Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov, Liza Peskova, has publicly spoken out against the war. Liza posted a story with the hashtag “No to War” on her Instagram account today.

    Russia has been kicked out of this year’s Eurovision Song Contest

    Russia’s censorship agency throttles Facebook

    Roskomnadzor has announced that it will partially restrict access to Facebook. According to the censorship agency, this comes in response the platform putting restrictions on accounts run by Russian media outlets Zvezda, RIA Novosti, Lenta[dot]ru, and Gazeta[dot]ru in connection with their coverage of the war.

  164. blf says

    me@270, Oops! The Council of Europe … is perhaps best known as the European Court of Human Rights (ECHR) → … is perhaps best known for the … ECHR

    Minor point, but the ECHR is just one of the bodies within that organisation; they are not the same thing. (Sorry for the confusing wording in the original.)

  165. says

    Julia Davis:

    Orwellian scenes on #Russia’s state TV, where they proudly showcase Russian tanks in Ukraine, including one with the flag of the USSR.

    “There’s your decommunization, as Putin said,” mocks the host.

    “Russian military comes bringing peace and friendship,” adds pompous MP.

    Screenshot at the link.

  166. says

    Yair Rosenberg:

    The director of the main synagogue in Odessa tearfully bids goodbye to the synagogue, asks people to pray for them as they evacuate during the Jewish Sabbath:

    [video at the link]

    Odessa was once had the third largest Jewish population in the world. Then came pogroms, Stalin’s purges, and the Nazi Holocaust. The city, once half Jewish, had fallen to 6 percent Jewish by the time the Soviet Union collapsed. And now this.

    This is what Putin’s “denazification” looks like: the evacuation of one of the world’s most historic Jewish communities while the Russian army hunts down Ukraine’s Jewish president

  167. says

    KG @240, so sorry to hear that your son has Covid. Wishing him a fast recovery! Glad to hear that he was fully vaccinated, which increases his chances of a good recovery.

    In other news, Republicans in the USA who are promoting Putin, (in one way or another), really irritate me.

    It’s no secret that Gov. Ron DeSantis isn’t just running for re-election this year; the Florida Republican also appears to have national ambitions. With this in mind, the governor’s appearance at the Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC) yesterday generated some interest, in large part because of the timing.

    After all, Russia’s attack on Ukraine has created the most serious security crisis in Europe since World War II, and if DeSantis is serious about demonstrating national leadership skills, this was an opportunity for the Republican to step up and prove he’s ready for prime time.

    That’s not what happened.

    Pandering to the far-right crowd with juvenile rhetoric, DeSantis referred to the Biden administration as “the Brandon administration,” boasted about his state having “defeated Fauci-ism,” and lashed out at the free press as being responsible for a “blizzard of lies.”

    Eventually, [DeSantis] reflected on those “chafing under authoritarian rule all over the world.” It seemed DeSantis was finally prepared to take note of the crisis gripping the world, but he wasn’t. As the Sarasota Herald Tribune reported:

    As Russian dictator Vladimir Putin sent troops into Democratic Ukraine, Gov. Ron DeSantis took the stage Thursday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in Orlando and attacked authoritarianism not in Russia, but in democratic Australia, Canada and Europe. DeSantis touted his efforts to fight COVID-19 restrictions and slammed nations such as Australia and Canada that enacted more restrictive public health measures.

    Yes, when DeSantis see people “chafing under authoritarian rule all over the world,” he’s not thinking about Russia. In fact, the governor ignored the international crisis and made no mention of Russia or Vladimir Putin.

    Instead, the governor believes Canada and Australia are examples of “authoritarian rule,” because officials in those countries took steps he didn’t like to protect their citizens during the deadly pandemic.

    Or put another way, as an authoritarian adversary launches a military offensive, threatening to destabilize a large part of the world, DeSantis criticized his own country’s White House, Dr. Anthony Fauci, his own country’s journalists, and some of the United States’ closest allies, but not Vladimir Putin.

    Making matters just a bit worse, The Orlando Sentinel’s report flagged a related gem:

    DeSantis said Biden “just hates Florida,” claiming the president was trying to “take our medication,” a reference to the Food and Drug Administration dropping two antibody treatments for COVID-19 that he championed, even though the drugmakers themselves conceded they are ineffective against omicron.

    That lying dunderhead, Ron DeSantis, is spouting disinformation that may keep people in Florida from getting proper medical care.

    He is also trying to fill the coffers of his major donors with money. He wants Floridians (or government funds) to continue to pay for monoclonal antibody treatments that don’t work against the omicron variant.

    […] the FDA announced about a month ago that the monoclonal antibody treatments from Regeneron and Eli Lilly should no longer be used to treat Covid-19 patients infected with the omicron variant. The drugs had received emergency-use authorizations, but because they don’t work against the omicron variant, federal health regulators decided revoking the authorization was the obvious move.

    Both drugmakers endorsed the policy change, agreeing that the infusion treatments aren’t effective against omicron.

    In theory, that should have effectively ended the conversation. In practice, Florida’s GOP governor responded to the news by throwing a fit and accusing the Biden administration of “pulling the rug out from under people.”

    At a press conference, DeSantis went on to tell reporters “Early this morning, thousands of Floridians woke up to news that their appointments to get treatment for Covid-19 infection were canceled by the administration, which revoked, outright revoked authorization for two very popular monoclonal antibody treatments.”

    Of course, their “popularity” was irrelevant. The treatments didn’t work. Everyone involved in the process recognized their inefficacy. DeSantis was fighting to provide people with medical treatments that wouldn’t help patients at all.

    As ridiculous as this was, the Republican governor is still whining a month later, telling people that Biden took patients’ medication away, as proof that the president “hates” Florida.

    So much for being ready for prime time. CPAC can be strange, but DeSantis was embarrassment to himself.


  168. says

    blf @270:

    In addition, apparently there is an Effort under way to challenge Russia’s right to seat on UN security council […]

    Good. I was hoping to see Russia removed from the UN Security Council.

  169. says

    Support for Ukraine:

    Russian tennis player Andrey Rublev writing “No war please” on the camera after his win in Dubai today….

    Folks in Moscow showing with Ukraine solidarity today, even after over 1,000 were arrested at anti-war protests yesterday….

    [They’re placing flowers across from the Ukrainian embassy.]

    Wild footage of a Russian in Belarus kneeling and saying “I want to kneel before you and apologize for what this bastard is doing at the moment. We didn’t choose him. Russia without Putin!” Via @nexta_tv

    It’s not just Russians, folks around the world are protesting Russia’s war today….

    [protest outside Russian embassy in Dublin]

    There’s also a huge anti-war protest in Tbilisi, Georgia, now outside their Parliament.

    I guess this is now turning into an anti-war protest thread. Just so it’s clear I’m against all war but the class war….

    Scotland protesting as well today. Can’t mistake that sound….

    Videos at the link.

  170. says

    From text quoted by SC in comment 274:

    Orwellian scenes on #Russia’s state TV, where they proudly showcase Russian tanks in Ukraine, including one with the flag of the USSR.

    “There’s your decommunization, as Putin said,” mocks the host.

    Followup news, of a sort, from Alabama, USA:

    Vladimir Putin invaded Ukraine because Russia is a “communist country” and he needs more farmland to feed his people, according to Sen. Tommy Tuberville. “He can’t feed his people,” the senator reportedly told the Montgomery Chamber of Commerce, according to 1819 News. “It’s a communist country, so he can’t feed his people, so they need more farmland.”


    […] the idea that Russia is incapable of feeding its population is plainly wrong.

    Especially glaring was the Alabaman arguing that Russia needs more farmland. Not to put too fine a point on this, but Russia is a country so large, it spans 11 time zones. By square miles, it is the largest country on the planet by a wide margin. Russia is in need of a great many things, but land for agriculture isn’t one of them.

    According to a local report, it was at the same public appearance when Tuberville complained that China’s economy has surpassed the United States’, which also isn’t even close to being true.

    [Senator Tommy Tuberville] is a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. He attends its hearings. He receives its briefings. Even if he arrived on Capitol Hill with no meaningful understanding of these basic details, it stands to reason he’d pick up a few things about international affairs through his day-to-day work.

    Is he incapable of learning because he is a rightwing dunderhead?

    […] there’s also a larger context to consider. Over the course of the last year, Tuberville has also flubbed the basics of World War II. And how recent presidential elections have been resolved. And the three branches of the United States government.

    Finally, it’s likely that [Tuberville] is trying to come to terms with why Putin launched this attack on Ukraine. That’s understandable; much of the world is asking the same question. But if Tuberville concluded that Russia had to invade its neighbor in order to acquire “more farmland,” we can only hope he won’t be playing a leadership role in the Senate on the U.S. response to the crisis.


  171. says

    Good news, as posted by Steve Benen:

    * Pennsylvania’s Supreme Court settled on a new congressional district map this week, which is consistent with the lines proposed by a group of Democratic-aligned voters. That’s not the outcome Republicans were hoping for.

    * On a related note, a North Carolina court this week rejected a Republican-drawn map, instead endorsing a map drawn by a non-partisan panel of redistricting experts. That’s also not the outcome the GOP wanted to see.

    Summarized from New York Times articles.

  172. says

    Moscow Times – “Russians Protest Ukraine Invasion Despite Crushed Opposition, Risk of Reprisals”:

    On day two of the war in Ukraine, much of Russia’s population remained in shock and strongly divided over the Kremlin’s claims that it had no choice other than to invade.

    Anti-war protests took place in over 50 Russian cities on Thursday night, with almost 2,000 arrested according to the OVD-Info watchdog amid major security force deployments in Moscow, St. Petersburg, Yekaterinburg and Novosibirsk.

    Though Russia’s organized opposition has been all but smashed since the crushing of protests against the jailing of its de facto leader Alexei Navaly a year ago, many still turned out.

    As traditionally opposition-leaning celebrities like YouTuber Yury Dud and rapper Oxxxymiron — who called for a Russian anti-war movement modeled on that of the United States in the 1960s — spoke out, so too did some of their typically more cautious peers.

    A string of sportspeople, musicians and TV presenters who earn their livings from lucrative contracts on state media, have come out publicly against the war, even as they mostly avoid criticizing Russian President Vladimir Putin directly.

    After Ivan Urgant, a popular late-night host on the flagship Perviy Kanal TV channel spoke out against the war, his Friday night show was reportedly canceled.

    “Fear and pain. NO to war,” the star had written on his Instagram, echoing a phrase widely posted by anti-war Russians.

    On Russia’s main state channels, a roster of belligerent political talk shows have provided coverage of the war, with Friday’s Perviy Kanal schedules cleared for a six-hour special edition of Vremya Pokazhet (“Time Will Tell”), a long-running chat show dedicated to foreign policy, featuring aggressive denunciations of the West and Ukraine.

    However, some dissent was registered there, too.

    After Elena Chernenko, a well-respected foreign policy reporter at the business daily Kommersant which is seen as ultimately loyal to the Kremlin, organized and signed a petition of journalists against the war, she was removed from the Foreign Ministry’s pool of reporters.

    On her Telegram channel, Chernenko said a Foreign Ministry spokeswoman had accused her of “setting up” her co-signatories, who included journalists at state-funded English-language news network RT, and the state-run newswire TASS.

    Among the country’s expert community, many of whom work in state-funded think tanks that provide advice and consultation to the government, there is broad shock at the invasion.

    Few analysts expected Russia to mount a full scale invasion of Ukraine, believing instead that a months-long buildup on the border had been mounted to win concessions, rather than execute a military offensive.

    For Sergei Utkin, head of strategy at the state-linked International Relations Institute of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Russia’s lurch into war is both a personal shock and a national catastrophe.

    “There is no good scenario that can come out of this war,” said Utkin, who said most of his peers were opposed to the move.

    But with Russians largely unable to influence government policy in an increasingly authoritarian political system, few opponents of the war believe they stand a meaningful chance of bringing hostilities to a halt.

    For the Moscow school teacher who protested on Thursday night, a moment of unity with other opponents of the war inspired a brief flash of hope.

    “Being in the crowd, and hearing them chant felt surreal, heartbreaking but quite comforting,” she said.

    “But I think we were all scared for the future. And still are.”

  173. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Nato member countries will deploy more troops to eastern Europe, world leaders said, as they accused Russia of lying about its intentions.

    In a joint statement after a virtual summit chaired by secretary general Jens Stoltenberg, the 30 Nato leaders said:

    No one should be fooled by the Russian government’s barrage of lies.

    We are now making significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the alliance.

  174. KG says

    SC, blf, Lynna OM, thanks for the good wishes for my son. I can tell myself any number of times that his chances of becoming seriously ill are very small (setting aside that we simply don’t know whether there will be long-term effects even of “mild” or symptomless cases), but when it’s someone that close to you, it doesn’t quite eliminate the worry!

  175. says


    According to intelligence, Russia plans a massive false flag operation to ‘dehumanize’ Ukrainians and accuse Ukraine of alleged inhuman actions. Don’t trust fakes. Ukraine defends its land in a just and defensive war. Unlike Russia, we don’t target kindergartens and civilians.

  176. KG says


    Glad to see the protest at the Russian consulate (not embassy) in Edinburgh at your link. I was at a much smaller protest there yesterday, and even gave an interview (no idea whether LBC have used it – probably not). This was in response to one of my party’s MSPs asking for someone to go, as none of them (occupied with a debate on the invasion in the Scottish Parliament), or our local councillors (occupied I don’t know how), could make it. I made sure to mention the courageous Russian anti-war protests, the most hopeful aspect of this dreadful event.

  177. says

    […] Let’s be frank: there’s something between a non-trivial and a very good likelihood Zelensky will not physically survive this conflict. And yet, there he is. He’s not running. It’s hard not to compare him – though the acts are vastly different – to Ashraf Ghani, the last President of Afghanistan, who got the hell outta do Dodge at the first hint things were going South. Very, very few of us will ever face a situation with such a combination of historic consequence and physical danger. But many of us face moments in which we must choose to face fear and live out our promises or run. Zelensky is passing that test.

    The resistance we’re seeing across Ukraine involves millions or tens of millions of people. That’s about far more than just one man. Indeed, if there’s some miscalculation on Vladimir Putin’s part this is likely the heart of it: I don’t think he anticipated that the last three decades and particularly the last seven years had developed the degree of national identity and or latent unity to hold up against a concerted barrage of violence and terror. But it seems almost certain that a rapid collapse of the state apparatus or evacuation of its leaders – while understandable at various levels – would have been a gut punch to the morale we’re seeing standing in defiance of the Russian armies onslaught across the country.

  178. says

    Pentagon Briefs Reporters On Latest US Assessments

    Russia has launched more than 200 ballistic and cruise missiles as part of its attack on Ukraine, with some impacting civilian centers, according to a Pentagon official’s background briefing with reporters Friday.

    The briefing was described by several reporters in attendance. […]

    Russia has not yet established air superiority.

    Russia has not yet taken any population centers.

    There are indications of an amphibious assault to the west of Mariupol, a city on the Black Sea.

    Roughly ⅓ of the Russian troops previously amassed along Ukraine’s border are now in the country.

    Russian momentum in this “initial phase” has slowed, but this may change.

    Russia is not moving as quickly on Kyiv as expected.

    Ukrainian command and control is intact.

  179. says

    Michael McFaul (former US ambassador to Russia) tweeted: “Hearing from those in Ukraine that the Russian assault on Kharkiv is intense and Ukrainian forces there are running out of Javelins. More military assistance now!”

  180. says

    Ukraine has survived two days of intense fighting with Russian forces, including a series of battles with outcomes that show the situation is definitely not following Vladimir Putin’s plans. Reports out of the beleaguered country claim that whole columns of Russian tanks have been smashed near Chernigiv in the north. Images of an aging MiG-29 shooting down a highly regarded Russian SU-35 fighter are helping to fuel stories of “The Ghost of Kyiv”—a heroic Ukrainian pilot who supposedly has shot down six Russian jets using a fighter built in the 1970s.

    However, as of Friday morning, a large number of Russian forces are on the outskirts of Kyiv. Government officials have reported that the city has been entered by “sabotage squads” meant to start fires, plant explosives, and generate fear—a step outlined in what has been put forward as the Russian plan for Kyiv. Adding to the confusion are rumors that some Russian forces are wearing Ukrainian uniforms. Images on Friday morning show Russian military transports mingling with civilian traffic in the Kyiv suburbs. The battle for Kyiv … is just beginning.

    Overnight, Russia managed to get a surface to air missile system close enough to Kyiv that a missile took out a Ukrainian fighter jet above the city, raining debris onto an apartment building. A pitched battle of opposing armored units took place near the crossroads town of Ivankiv, and Russia claims to have retaken the much fought over Hostomel airport. Meanwhile, both Sweden and Estonia announced that they are sending military and humanitarian assistance to Ukraine.

    On Friday morning, Putin offered to send a delegation to Minsk to meet with negotiators from Ukraine. However, this offer seems to be nothing more than a demand that Ukraine surrender. […]


  181. says

    Ukrainian Ambassador to the U.S. Oksana Markarova said on Thursday that a platoon of Russian soldiers surrendered to the Ukrainian military, saying they “didn’t know that they were brought to Ukraine to kill Ukrainians.”

    At a press briefing, Markarova said, “Just before I came here, we got information from our chief commander that one of the platoons of the 74th motorized brigade from Kemerovo Oblast surrendered.”

    “They didn’t know that they were brought to Ukraine to kill Ukrainians. They thought they were doing something else there,” she added.


    Good. And the ambassador provided details (unlike Putin and his ambassadors when they spout their lies).

  182. KG says

    I see Russia <A href=”>is not going to be allowed to take part in the Eurovision Song Contest. I was tempted to post something slightly snide, but then realised – surely it’s better to ban them than not to, even if the practical effet is negligible.

  183. says

    Last night, Russia launched a brazen attack on the people of Ukraine, in violation of international law and basic principles of human decency. Here’s my statement on what it means, and what should happen next.

    The statement is available at the link.


    “People of conscience around the world need to loudly and clearly condemn Russia’s actions and offer support for the Ukrainian people. And every American, regardless of party, should support President Biden’s efforts, in coordination with our closest allies, to impose hard-hitting sanctions on Russia — sanctions that impose a real price on Russia’s autocratic elites,” Obama wrote.

    “For some time now, we have seen the forces of division and authoritarianism make headway around the world, mounting an assault on the ideals of democracy, rule of law, equality, individual liberty, freedom of expression and worship, and self-determination. Russia’s invasion of Ukraine shows where these dangerous trends can lead — and why they cannot be left unchallenged,” he said.

    “There may be some economic consequences to such sanctions, given Russia’s significant role in world energy markets. But that’s a price would be willing to pay to take a stand on the side of freedom,” he continued. “For over the long term, we all face a choice, between a world in which might makes right and autocrats are free to impose their will through force, or a world in which free people everywhere have the power to determine their own future.” […]

  184. KG says

    Sorry, link misfunction @292. <A href=”″>Trying again.

  185. KG says

    Ah well, don’t know what the problem is. It’s in the Guardian live thread on the invasion at 17.02.

  186. says

    Zelenskyy’s video: “President of Ukraine Volodymyr Zelensky: ‘We’re all here. We are in Kyiv. We are defending Ukraine’.”

    He just tweeted: “Strengthening sanctions, concrete defense assistance and an anti-war coalition have just been discussed with @POTUS. Grateful to [US] for the strong support to [Ukraine]!”

    Shaun Walker: “Driving on the road towards Kyiv and the radio announcer is giving out instructions on how to make Molotov cocktails.”

  187. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The missile left a crater two metres’ deep, twisted shards of metal beside a playground slide, and shattered glass below the windows of a nearby kindergarten, the Guardian’s correspondent in Kyiv, Emma Graham-Harrison, reports.

    In one apartment block 10 floors of kitchens, living rooms and bedrooms sat open to the skies, their balconies, doors and windows broken off or shattered into pieces by the weapon that brought the Russian invasion to this corner of the city.

    The missile hit soon after 4am on Friday, before Russian troops reached the city outskirts, or Ukrainian troops set up defensive positions in its historic centre.

    “People are grieving. This is already a tragedy,” said Gorban Abasov, a 70-year-old singer. Most of the people who lived there were pensioners like him, he said, none had army links and nearby buildings were civilian as well.

    There was no reason for such a lethal weapon to land here, but none of those gathered to inspect the damage seemed surprised that civilians were already in the line of fire, even before the battle for Kyiv had really begun. After all, there was no reason for Russian troops to be in their country, beyond the terrifying whim of an ageing autocrat.

    As Abasov stared at the ruins of his home, Ukrainian soldiers were already taking up position in Kyiv’s historic centre and its strategic bridges across the Dnieper and fighting advance Russian forces on its outskirts.

    They have a link to the full article.

  188. says

    Wonkette: “Today We Are All Telling Russian Warships, ‘Go F*ck Yourself'”

    Invading Russian troops have reached the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, according to the Ukrainian government. The capital’s mayor, Vitaly Klitschko, said that

    “Shots and explosions are ringing out in some neighborhoods saboteurs have already entered Kyiv. The enemy wants to put the capital on its knees and destroy us,” the former boxer told a news briefing.

    Earlier reports said that Russian saboteurs had entered the city as Russian forces, including tanks, approached on the city from various directions. Gunfire was heard near the government district earlier in the day.
    The New York Times reports that officials have asked residents of Kyiv to stay indoors and to “prepare Molotov cocktails” to resist invading Russian troops. Missiles have been falling on the capital, and at least one rocket hit an apartment building.

    The Russian Defense Ministry says its troops have blocked off the western side of Kyiv by capturing an airfield about 10 miles outside the city.

    The BBC reports that tanks have been sighted in Kyiv, and that the Ukrainian government has issued “18,000 guns to volunteers, as well as issuing instructions on how to make petrol bombs.”

    […] ‘Russian Warship, Go Fuck Yourself’

    13 Ukrainian border guards on a Black Sea outpost called Snake Island were killed Thursday after they refused to surrender to a Russian Navy vessel demanding they lay their arms. But first, they gave the world an iconic moment of defiance that seems likely to be remembered in all historic accounts of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. Here’s a video that includes a recording of the radio transmissions, which has been confirmed as authentic by the Ukrainian government: [video is available at the link]

    Russian Navy ship: This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise you will be bombed.

    The ship repeated the demand to surrender and demanded a reply. A Ukrainian guard muttered, “Well, fuck these [guys] too, right?” and “Just in case…” then transmitted the message, “Russian warship, go fuck yourself!”

    The outpost was then hit by airstrikes, killing all 13 Ukrainians, according to an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior minister.

    President Zelenskyy said on his website Thursday that the border guards “died heroically. But they did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine.” Also too, we like that Reuters used the un-asterisked word in its headline and article, with a brief note reading “Language some may find offensive in headline and paragraph 5.”

    The line immediately became a meme on Ukrainian language social media: [examples are available at the link] […]


  189. KG says

    So, for decades I’ve been arguing that the UK shoiuld give up its nuclear weapons as a step towards universal nuclear disarmament, and opposing NATO as an imperialist formation. I still hold those views – and in particular, consider that the easward expansion of NATO was one factor in the rise of extremist chauvinism in Russia. But it’s not going to be easy to argue either case in future, given that Ukraine became the only country to give up its nukes in 1994 (in exchange for guarantees of its independence and territorial integrity from Russia among others), has not been allowed to join NATO, and is now being invaded by a psychopathic fascist* shitbag with lots of tanks, planes and as a deterrent to anyone interfering, nukes.

    *I don’t use the term loosely here. The article SC links to @243 reveals Putin’s views as classic fascism: the pose as victim, the “decadence” of democracy and materialism, the pseudo-biological “life-force” and life-cycle attributed to ethnic groups.

  190. says

    Kevin Rothrock:

    A collection of social-media content denouncing Russia’s invasion posted by the children of Russia senior state officials and oligarchs, past and present. From @mediazzzona.

    [Russian link at the link]

    Included: Yeltsin’s daughter and granddaughter, Peskov’s daughter and ex-wife, Shoigu’s future son-in-law (wow!), Chemezov’s son, Abramovich’s daughter

  191. says

    The body of a Russian soldier lies next to a Russian vehicle, in Kharkiv, Ukraine, on Friday.
    Photo by Tyler Hicks/New York Times, on the frontlines….”

    I’m not sharing many war images or videos, but I wanted to share this one because (from #257) “The Russian Defense Ministry recently stated that its military has not suffered any casualties.” They’re denying these people’s existence. And I don’t know how they think they’re going to get away with it. Hundreds of Russian soldiers if not more have already been killed in the first day. Their families are going to know when they don’t come home.

  192. blf says

    (Slightly-edited cross-post from poopyhead’s current Anyone else feeling overwhelmed? thread…)

    Poorly-educated child labourers and no retirement — that’s what the States needs! Madison Cawthorn unveils his Contract with America that destroys social security to incentivize elderly to work (essentially quoted in full):

    US Rep Madison Cawthorn (R-NC) has revealed his New Contract with America that’s designed to destroy Social Security, one of the most successful and life-saving programs in US history, to incentivize the elderly to return to work.

    That’s just one aspect of what Cawthorn describes as a 10-point plan that reads like a far right-wing dream from capitalist kingpins to return America to the days of child labor, seven-day work weeks, and no retirement for senior citizens. But it does call for the federal government to promote and celebrate the American manufacturing and agriculture industry by incentivizing domestic production, despite the US economy being so on fire the Federal Reserve is poised to dramatically raise interest rates to cool off spending and so-called “inflation.”

    The youngest member of Congress, currently facing a legal battle that could ban him from keeping his seat over his role in the January 6 insurrection, explained to Fox News his “new Contract With America is really a “retort” to the Green New Deal. [“borked “quoting” in the original]

    I think the Green New Deal is much less of a climate plan and much more of a Communist manifesto.

    Cawthorn does not reveal who actually wrote the plan, which is in the form of a House resolution […] — so it has zero chance of passing as long as Democrats hold the chamber.

    It includes slashing government spending by a third by 2031; enacting a balanced budget amendment; and abolishing the income tax and finding a replacement flat tax or consumption tax by 2026, Fox News adds.

    The contract also calls for abolishing the Department of Education, making English the official language of the United States, banning federal funding for critical race theory teachings, and enacting school choice on the federal level so federal dollars follow the students to their school of choice, including private religious schools.

    There’s also a companion video that looks more like a video game than a rational political agenda.

    Both the video and the resolution are available at the link. So might be the presumably-missing quote”.

  193. blf says

    From the Meduza live blog (sorry, it may not be possible to link to individual entries; and the timestamps are relative meaning I can’t just say “see the 10:23 entry”):

    In the past 48 hours, more than 50,000 people have fled Ukraine, reports United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees Filippo Grandi.

    According to Telegram channels established to aid refugees from Ukraine, Poland has lifted all border restrictions imposed due to the coronavirus pandemic, and border guards will provide all necessary assistance to incoming Ukrainians, including “accepting applications for international protection.”

    There’s also a set of images from tonight’s anti-war protest in St Petersburg.

    Meduza, a foreign agent (see @263), “is a Russian- and English-language online newspaper and news aggregator, based in Latvia”, in case you were wondering (I was, it wasn’t clear to me what SC has been usefully quoting).

  194. says

    Thanks, blf @ #306. Don’t know why I haven’t been linking. They’re good at liveblogging.

    Kyiv Mayor Vitali Klitschko has warned Russian troops are ‘very close to the capital’ and predicted ‘a difficult night’ for the city.

    ‘The situation now is threatening for Kyiv, no exaggeration’, he said on his Telegram channel. ‘The night and the morning will be difficult’.”

    Also, per the Guardian liveblog: “The Russian army has reportedly destroyed the Kyiv thermal power plant, says Kyiv mayor Vitali Klitschko, a sign that Russia’s army is targeting critical infrastructure in the capital city.”

  195. blf says

    This is apparently real (it’s so loony I thought it was a bad attempt at an Onion-style parody), Russian space chief issues a bizarre threat as sanctions pile up:

    On Thursday, amid new announcements of sanctions on the Russian economy by the United States and NATO in retaliation for the invasion of Ukraine, Dimitry Rogozin, the chief of the Russian space corporation Roscosmos, made an eyebrow-raising threat: that if the sanctions continue, Russia could stop maintaining the orbit of the International Space Station and allow it to crash into the United States.

    If you block cooperation with us, who will save the ISS from an uncontrolled deorbit and fall into the United States or Europe? tweeted Rogozin in Russian. There is also the option of dropping a 500-ton structure on India or China. Do you want to threaten them with such a prospect? The ISS does not fly over Russia, so all the risks are yours. Are you ready for them?

    Confirmed by Russian space chief suggests ISS could crash into US or Europe as a result of sanctions, who observe it’s largely an idle threat:

    [Rogozin] pointed out that the station’s orbit and location in space are controlled by Russian-made engines.


    “Though dramatic, this is likely an idle threat due to both political consequences and the practical difficulty of getting Russian cosmonauts off the ISS safely,” said Dr Wendy Whitman Cobb, a Professor of Strategy and Security Studies at the School of Advanced Air and Space Studies.

  196. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The Ukrainian ambassador to the US said today that attacks from Russia on Ukraine have “been more brutal,” but that Russian forces did not advanced as planned.

    “The enemy is clearly surprised by the result of the armed forces and volunteers to protect the integrity of our country,” said ambassador Oksana Markarova who is currently speaking at the the Embassy of Ukraine in Washington D.C.

    Markarova also said that Ukrainian authorities are gathering evidence of “crimes” by Russian authorities to submit to international tribunals.

    On the Chernobyl power plant that Russian troops captured yesterday, Markarova said that responsibility for it now lies with Russia as strict regulations for the plant are not being observed, adding that 92 plant personnel were taken as hostages.

    Markarova also confirmed that Russian troops hit an orphanage in Ukraine, but did not injure any of the 50 children that were inside.

  197. says

    CNN – “US expected to impose sanctions on Putin as soon as Friday, sources tell CNN”:

    The US is planning to impose sanctions on Russian President Vladimir Putin as soon as Friday, according to two people familiar with the decision.

    The Russian leader will become the highest-profile target in the effort to impose costs on the Russian economy and Putin’s inner circle in the wake of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. Additional Russian officials are likely to be included, one of the people said.

    The European Union and United Kingdom announced they would introduce sanctions targeting Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov on Friday.

    President Joe Biden had said sanctioning Putin had been an option under consideration, telling CNN’s Kaitlan Collins on Thursday it was “on the table.”

  198. blf says

    The Eiffel Tower in Paris is currently lit up in the colours of the Ukrainian flag, apparently at the request of Mayor Anne Hidalgo. There is a small image at the Meduza live blog.

  199. blf says

    From the Meduza live blog (my added emboldening):

    The self-proclaimed Donetsk and Luhansk “People’s Republics” have ordered general conscription to protect the Donbas and all Russian people. The de facto authorities in the “republics” are reporting a successful mobilization and a large number of volunteers. Local residents told Meduza that the local militias are conducting street raids in search of conscripts.

    Press gangs!

  200. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The hack group Anonymous announced on Twitter today that they had reportedly hacked the database of the Russian Ministry of Defence website, breaching and leaking the private data.

    From the Anonymous Twitter account:

    JUST IN: Hacktivist group #Anonymous has successfully breached and leaked the database of the Russian Ministry of Defence website [mildotru].

    In the same tweet, the group also posted screenshots of the reported data and provided a link where users could access it.

  201. says

    Tidbit from Kyiv: After the Ukrainian defense minister called on residents of the capital city to prepare Molotov cocktails for ongoing fighting…

    …Chemistry students at the Kyiv Polytechnic Institute rallied to build stocks of the weapon & deliver them to soldiers in the city”

  202. blf says

    SC@312, Going through some of the comments at that tweeting, there’s a link to this Grauniad article from 2015, Vladimir Putin declares all Russian military deaths state secrets (“President extends secrecy to deaths in peacetime as well as in official wars, raising concerns for those who report deaths of soldiers in Ukraine”). A snippet:

    Vladimir Putin has declared that all military deaths will be classified as state secrets not just in times of war but also in peace […] Revealing state secrets is punishable by up to seven years in prison.

    Rights advocate Valentina Melnikova, secretary of the Union of Soldiers’ Mothers Committees, said the decree simply legalised the common practice of withholding information on all military losses, which had been done since Soviet times.

    Presumably still in effect, and presumably explains what is going on with not acknowledging losses (besides it being a peacekeeping operation and other nonsenses which are not associated with battle casualties).

  203. says

    US Officially Sanctions Putin, Lavrov

    The U.S. announced its sanctions on Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister Sergey Lavrov Friday afternoon, following similar moves by the UK and EU.

    It’s unclear the extent to which they will impact the Russian president or largely be symbolic, but White House Press Secretary said they may include a travel ban. […]

  204. says


    New: Sen. Warner has sent letters to the CEOs of Alphabet, Meta, Reddit, Telegram, TikTok and Twitter, calling them to take steps to limit Russian information operations amid the conflict in Ukraine.

    In the letter to Alphabet, Warner says his office observed YouTube ads monetizing content related to the conflict in Ukraine from RT, Sputnik and TASS, “malign actors affiliated with the Russian government.”

  205. says

    Hope this is true:

    Reversing earlier statements, Kyiv city officials say that the thermal plant is still operating. Five explosions took place in the area of the plant, but apparently it is not out at this time. Kyiv still has power.


  206. says

    NATO activates response force for first time in history

    NATO, for the first time in its history, is activating its NATO Response Force (NRF) in response to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

    “We have activated NATO’s defense plans to prepare ourselves to respond to a range of contingencies and secure Alliance territory, including by drawing on our response forces,” NATO heads of state and government said in a joint statement released Friday after the alliance held a virtual summit.

    “We are now making significant additional defensive deployments of forces to the eastern part of the Alliance. We will make all deployments necessary to ensure strong and credible deterrence and defense across the Alliance, now and in the future.”

    The leaders stressed the moves “are and remain preventive, proportionate and non-escalatory.”

    The extraordinary move marks the first time NATO has activated the NRF, a multinational force comprised of around 40,000 land, air, maritime and special operations personnel the alliance can deploy on short notice as needed. All 30 members of NATO must agree to activate the force, which they did on Thursday.

    The Pentagon in January put 8,500 U.S. troops on heightened alert for such a mission, and with the NRF now activated, those troops could soon be ordered to Europe to help bolster NATO countries near Ukraine. […]

    Supreme Allied Commander of NATO Gen. Tod Wolters, the head of the NRF, called the force’s activation a “historic moment” according to a statement.

    “They represent a flexible, combat credible force that can be employed in multiple ways and we are utilizing fully their inherent agility,” Wolters said. “These deterrence measures are prudent and enhance our speed, responsiveness and capability to shield and protect the one billion citizens we swore to protect.”

    The force is still on standby and has not yet been deployed.

    […] Speaking to reporters after the summit, NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said the U.S., Canada and European allies have deployed “thousands of more troops to the eastern part of the alliance,” with more than 100 jets and 120 ships operating on high alert in more than 30 locations.

    Stoltenberg also again called on Russia to stop its attack on Ukraine.

    “We call on Russia to stop this senseless war, immediately cease its assaults, withdraw all of its forces from Ukraine and turn back to the path of dialogue and turn away from aggression,” he said.

    He warned that the alliance is facing a new normal in European security, and that “the world will hold Russia and Belarus accountable for their actions — Russia as the aggressor, Belarus as the enabler.”

    The United States has already deployed or repositioned roughly 15,000 American troops to locations in Germany, Romania and Poland. Russia Russian President Vladimir Putin early on Thursday launched a military operation into Ukraine. Hundreds of Ukrainian citizens have since been killed or wounded.

  207. says

    Ha! Tucker Carlson caught so much flak that he finally tried to walk back some of his recent praise for Putin.

    After a week of offering wet kisses to Vladimir Putin and explaining that Ukraine isn’t really a “democracy,” but is instead a “pure client state of the United States State Department,” Fox News host Tucker Carlson did a sudden about-face last night and decided the Russian invasion of Ukraine is actually a “tragedy,” and what’s more, it’s all Vladimir Putin’s fault.

    Yes, really, go figure! Please send all clips of Tucker downplaying the invasion straight down the Memory Hole, because he’s discovered that war is in fact a bad thing.

    We suppose we should at least be impressed that Carlson went on air last night without a neck brace, because damn, that was a fast 180 degree turn. [Video is available at the link.]

    What’s happening in Ukraine, whatever its scale, and it’s not totally clear right now, but whatever it is, it’s a tragedy because war always is a tragedy and the closer you get to it, the more horrifying it seems. It’s the ugliest thing that men do. Ever.

    Vladimir Putin started this war so whatever the context of the decision that he made, he did it. He fired the first shots. He is to blame for what we’re seeing tonight in Ukraine.

    War: what’ is it good for? Absolutely nothin’! And that Putin fellow, he’s the one doing it, even though there is apparently a “context” that Carlson may or may not return to in coming days.

    Carlson went on from there with some standard condemnations of “the usual liars on television” who would sink so low as to use this tragedy “for political gain,” which you can tell really disgusts him, because Tucker Carlson can’t stand it when people play politics with a tragic event like this.

    Golly, we can only imagine what Tucker would think of a low-down snake who’d go on national TV and wonder aloud why Americans are supposed to hate poor innocent Vladimir Putin, who’s never done anything to harm Tucker Carlson. As you may recall, Carlson on Tuesday contrasted the very unfair hate campaign against Putin against a whole bunch of things that are apparently far worse than anything Putin might do to Ukraine:

    Has Putin ever called me a racist?

    Has he threatened to get me fired for disagreeing with him? Has he shipped every middle-class job in my town to Russia? Did he manufacture a worldwide pandemic that wrecked my business and kept me indoors for two years?

    Is he teaching my children to embrace racial discrimination? Is he making fentanyl? Is he trying to snuff out Christianity? Does he eat dogs?

    These are fair questions, and the answer to all of them is “no.” Vladimir Putin didn’t do any of that. So, why does permanent Washington hate him so much?

    Now, it seems to us that perhaps Carlson was in fact using Putin’s impending war against Ukraine as a means of “leveraging this tragedy for partisan political gain,” but it could be we’re so partisan ourselves that we just missed the point.

    In any case, it was pretty amazing to see Carlson reverse his earlier suggestion that Russia and Ukraine were merely engaged in a “border dispute.” Now it’s quite a tragedy, and Carlson is very concerned that the US should avoid getting into a shooting war with Russia, something that Joe Biden has said many times he will not do.

    Also too, we figure that tonight, or Monday at the latest, Carlson will turn from decrying the cruelty of war to insisting that the US has no business at all helping Ukrainian refugees who fled the invasion, because there’s no room here and why do we have to allow all the foreigners in, especially people who don’t understand democracy?

    Or hell, maybe someone will point out Ukrainians are white and Christian; he could go either way.


  208. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Zelenskiy had a dire message for Ukrainians:

    “This night will be the hardest. The enemy will go all in. We must withstand. The night will be very hard, but sunset [sunrise?] will come,” he said in an address.

    “This night will be harder than the day. Many cities of our state are under attack: Chernihiv, Sumy, Kharkiv, our boys and girls in the Donbas, the cities of the south, special attention to Kyiv,” he said. We can’t lose the capital.”

  209. says

    Putin’s Historic Miscalculation May Make Him a War Criminal

    New Yorker link

    In the eyes of the world and almost certainly history, Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine on Thursday was an epic miscalculation, drawing comparisons to Adolf Hitler and Saddam Hussein for cold-blooded aggression that could challenge the world order and change its borders. The Russian leader appeared almost delusional in a pre-dawn speech from the Kremlin announcing a “special military operation” to “protect” Donbas, the eastern region where Russian-backed separatists have waged a war for eight years. Putin, instead, immediately ordered Russian tanks into Ukraine and air strikes on the capital and more than a dozen cities in a country of forty million people. “Peace on our continent has been shattered,” the nato secretary-general Jens Stoltenberg told reporters. “We now have war in Europe on a scale and of a type we thought belonged to history.” Putin’s “reckless” attack risks “countless innocent lives,” Stoltenberg warned.

    Putin is now, at minimum, a pariah condemned by leaders across the world. […]

    Putin may now also qualify as a war criminal, according to the Geneva Conventions of 1949. War crimes include willful killing and extensive destruction of property “not justified by military necessity and carried out unlawfully and wantonly.” […] In Ukraine, Putin’s “war of choice” has clearly violated international law through his invasion of a sovereign country and attempt to oust its government. […]

    Putin has lied at every stage of the Ukraine crisis, insisting last year that he had no military ambitions in Ukraine even as he steadily amassed a force of nearly two hundred thousand troops on three fronts. During a joint press conference with the German Chancellor, Olaf Scholz, last week, Putin played down the prospect of war. “Do we want this or not? Of course not,” he said, in response to a question. “That is exactly why we put forward proposals for a process of negotiations.” As he spoke, however, his military was setting up field hospitals near the Ukrainian border stocked with fresh blood supplies. “You don’t need blood unless you plan on starting a war,” President Biden noted on Tuesday.

    Putin’s invasion is based on wild accusations, including a claim that he needed to “denazify” Ukraine, a country led by President Volodymyr Zelensky, who is, in fact, Jewish. Putin vowed to end the “humiliation and genocide perpetrated by the Kiev regime,” when, in fact, separatists backed by Russia have for years waged a war in eastern Ukraine. Putin also claimed that the Kyiv government sought to acquire nuclear weapons when, in fact, Ukraine, once the third-largest nuclear power, denuclearized after the Soviet Union collapsed and it became an independent country again. He described the government in Kyiv as a “junta,” even though it was democratically elected in 2019. And Zelensky, in fact, won in a landslide with seventy-three per cent of the vote […]

    Much more at the link.

  210. says

    NBC News:

    Pope Francis visited the Russian Embassy in Rome on Friday in an extraordinary gesture to convey his personal concerns about the conflict in Ukraine. The Vatican confirmed to NBC News that the pope had made the visit, which appears to have no recent precedent. Typically, popes receive ambassadors and heads of state in the Vatican, with the Vatican foreign minister expected to summon the ambassador under expected diplomatic protocol.

  211. says

    US State Department:

    The Ukrainian people are showing strength and determination in response to an unprovoked attack. We have seen Ukrainian soldiers demonstrate incredible bravery. We are concerned Russia plans to demoralize them and induce surrender through disinformation.

    Russia is creating a disinformation campaign by publicizing false reports about the widespread surrender of Ukrainian troops. Russia plans to threaten killing the family members of Ukrainian soldiers if they do not surrender.

  212. Nerd of Redhead, Dances OM Trolls says

    In an aside from the present war news, the JWST was able to superimpose light from a star from its 18 segments into one image. Still a long way to go for the final alignment, which requires finer adjustments so that only one image is formed.

  213. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Kazakhstan is denying a request for its troops to join the Russian offensive, NBC has reported.

    The former Soviet Republic state has also refused to join Putin’s recognition of Luhansk and Donetsk as independent states, his pretext for the hostility.

    A significant and interesting move here, from one of Russia’s closest allies.

    Guatemala has recalled its ambassador from Russia. The central American country’s president Alejandro Giammattei said on Friday that he had ordered the return of Guisela Atalida Godinez Sazo, adding that his government rejected Russia’s actions in Ukraine.

    Giammattei had earlier expressed “full support for the sovereignty of Ukraine as like-minded countries and stand in solidarity with its people and government.”

    A report from the Reuters news agency suggests it is looking more likely that Russia could be excluded from the Swift global bank payments system – a step that some countries had been reluctant to take:

    Germany and Italy softened their opposition against kicking Russia out of the world’s main international payments network, US and European officials said. Doing so would hit Russian trade and make it harder for Russian companies to do business.

    Italy, which had been reluctant to take that step, on Friday said it would not veto proposals to ban Russia and pledged to continue working in unison with its EU partners. Germany, which has the EU’s biggest trade flows with Russia, is also open to banning Russia from Swift, but must calculate the consequences for its economy, said its finance minister, Christian Lindner.

    Justin Trudeau, Canada’s PM, and Boris Johnson in Britain want Russia removed from Swift immediately. It would mark be a significant escalation of sanctions already imposed against Russia and its leadership, including some aimed personally at Vladimir Putin and his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov.

  214. says

    José Andrés:

    People of the World…Like you, I am distraught watching Ukraine under attack. We must come together as a force for good! @WCKitchen is on Poland border delivering meals tonight—Romania soon. In addition to your donations…I am committing support from the Bezos award to Ukraine….

    Video at the link.

  215. says

    Tess Owen at Vice – “US Extremists Have Picked a Side in Ukraine: ‘Lol Putin Is Brilliant’”:

    White nationalist livestreamer Nicholas Fuentes has made no secret of where his loyalties lie in the Russia-Ukraine conflict.

    “I wish Putin was president of America,” he mused to his 45,000 subscribers on Telegram on Wednesday morning.

    Fifteen hours later, Russian forces invaded Ukraine. And Fuentes, who’s hosting a far-right conference in Florida Friday night, was psyched.

    “I am totally rooting for Russia,” he wrote the following morning. “This is the coolest thing to happen since 1/6.”

    “UKRAINE WILL BE DESTROYED”, added Fuentes, who describes himself as a “Christian nationalist,” someone who thinks the U.S. is a fundamentally Christian nation. “I never doubted you [Putin], my Czar.”

    Over on the Gab platform, its CEO Andrew Torba also expressed his support for Putin.

    “Lol Putin is brilliant. Western Media, which is obsessed with ‘muh Nazis’ will have a tough time spinning this one,” wrote Torba, who’s sponsoring Fuentes’ conference, the America First Political Action Conference (AFPAC), this weekend. “What he really means is Ukraine needs to be liberated and cleansed from the degeneracy of the secular western globalist empire.”

    Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine Wednesday night, far-right personalities have declared Russia a beacon of anti-wokeness and Putin a strong ethnonationalist. In their minds, Ukraine is just a corrupt pawn in a vast “globalist” conspiracy.

    It may seem confusing that much of the American far-right, who increasingly describe any policies they dislike as “communism,” would be rooting for Russia, given the history of the Soviet Union. But for at least a decade, Russia has been cultivating deep ties and even bankrolling ultranationalist and far-right movements elsewhere. Religious fundamentalists and white supremacists, inspired partially by the writings of a Kremlin-linked ideologue, have hailed Putin as a white Christian crusader on a mission to restore traditional values.

    In the U.S., “wokeness”—a catchall term for progressive or inclusive policies—is increasingly characterized on the right, especially among Christian nationalists, as antithetical to American values. That way of thinking has bled into pro-Putin rhetoric from the far-right this week. Some have mocked the U.S. for its inclusive policies on transgender recruits.

    Additionally, Kremlin-linked ideologue and [“]philosopher[“] Alexander Dugin—nicknamed “Putin’s Brain”—has had enormous influence on the far-right in Europe and the U.S….

    Dugin’s book “Foundations on Geopolitics,” which is published through white nationalist Arktos Media, is required reading for every Russian military officer above the rank of colonel. In that text, which is intended as an alternative to American “globalism,” Dugin asserts that “Ukraine as a state has no geopolitical meaning. It has no cultural import or universal significance, no geographic uniqueness, no ethnic exclusiveness.”…

    Much more at the link.

  216. says


    Unforgiving and revealing interview with the Russian ambassador to Ireland

    “Why should our government entertain your presence here when you’re acting as an apologist for slaughter?”

    “Well, it’s a good question… I can leave any time.”

    Video at the link. I feel like I’m in a time warp.

  217. says

    Here’s a link to today’s Guardian (support them if you can!) Ukraine liveblog. From there:

    Zelenskiy: ‘We will win’

    Ukraine’s president, Volodymyr Zelenskiy, has been giving a press briefing this morning and said his country will triumph over Russian forces.

    He said government forces still controlled Kyiv and “key points around the city”. He said Ukrainian forces would win, and criticised disinformation.

    In the final section of his speech, he said: “Please stop those who are lying, or trying to lie to you, or lying to us. We need to stop this war. We can live in peace together, globally, as humans.

    “Our military, our national guard, our national police, our territory defence, special service, nationals of Ukraine, please carry on. We will win. Glory to Ukraine.”

    Zelenskiy said: “We are successfully holding back the enemies attacks. We know we are defending our land and the future of our children. Kyiv and the key areas are controlled by our army.

    “The occupiers wanted to set up their puppet in our capital. They didn’t succeed. On our streets, there was a proper fight going on.

    The enemy was using all its weapons, artillery, paratroops, all its weapons. They are hitting residential areas, they are trying to destroy energy infrastructure, and everyone should help us to stop this occupation.”

    He said that after discussions with EU leaders in recent days, including over shutting Russia out of the Swift payments system (see 9.28am), he believed Ukraine should become part of the EU and its citizens should have the same rights.

    “Ukrainian people deserve to become members of the EU. And this would be a signal of your support to Ukraine. This discussion should be closed.

    “We discussed this today with the European leaders. All the equipment and defence military help is coming to Ukraine and work is going on to disconnecting Russia from Swift. I hope that Hungary will be forced to support this decision.”

    He asked for people who could come back to Ukraine to fight to do so: “In every hour and place, city, and town and person … everywhere where the enemy is killing our people, our armed forces are doing everything they can to destroy the enemy.

    “Those cities and town that are being attacked from the air are holding up, well done. If you can destroy the occupiers, please do. Everyone who can come back to Ukraine, please do, please come back.

    “We will have a lot of work to do to rebuild our Ukraine. Everyone who can defend it abroad, do it directly in a united way. Every friend of Ukraine who wants to join Ukraine in defending the country please come over, we will give you weapons. It will be announced very shortly, how this can be done. Everyone who is defending Ukraine is a hero.”

    He issued another plea to Russian people to help stop the war by putting pressure on Vladimir Putin and his government. Anti-war protesters have been arrested in recent days in Moscow and St Petersburg.

    “I want everyone in Russia to hear me. Everybody. Hundreds of captured soldiers who are here in Ukraine don’t know why they were sent here to kill people or be killed. People need to tell the government why the war has to be stopped, more people from your country will stay alive.

    “Your nationals are voicing their opposition to this war. We know many people in Russia are shocked now by the brutality of the Russian government, this is the right reaction, I am grateful to this reaction.”

  218. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Russia’s former president Dmitry Medvedev has said Russia could cut diplomatic ties with the west.

    In posts on social media, he said it was time to “padlock the embassies” and that Moscow would continue its campaign in Ukraine.

    He said the suspension of Russia’s Council of Europe membership could mean Russia may bring back the death penalty.

    The UK has said the majority of Russian forces are about 18 miles (30km) from the centre of Kyiv.

    In an intelligence update by the Ministry of Defence posted on Saturday morning, it said Russia had yet to gain control of airspace over Ukraine, reducing the effectiveness of the Russian air force.

    It added: “Russian casualties are likely to be heavy and greater than anticipated or acknowledged by the Kremlin.”

    The president of Lithuania, Gitanas Nausėda, is the latest European leader to ask Russian people to stop the war, saying: “Even though much evil has been committed, it’s not too late to stop all of this.”

    He said: “I appeal to you mothers of soldiers who are sent to die in Ukraine. I appeal to you soldiers who are fighting a war for who knows why.

    “What is the meaning of this war? Only because someone is sitting at a table, drew a piece of land on the map, that he wants to take away? A piece of land that never belonged to him. Does not belong to him. And will never belong to him.

    “It’s terrifying to see what is going on. It’s terrifying to see women and children die. Churches are being destroyed. What are you fighting for? You are destroying what is sacred to all the Slavs. The cradle of Orthodoxy. Kiev Rus.

    “Stop. Think about what you’re doing. About what your leaders are doing. It’s not too late, even though much evil has been committed, it’s not too late to stop all of this.”

    In a highly ominous development CNN has posted footage from inside Russia of a T0S-1 heavy flamethrower system being deployed towards the Ukrainian border on a flat bed truck.

    The TOs-1 is a missile system mounted on a T-72 tank chassis which fires thermobaric rockets and was first used during the Soviet war in Afghanistan and was also used more recently in Syria.

  219. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Estonia has closed its airspace to Russian planes, joining Baltic neighbour Latvia.

    Its prime minister Kaja Kallas urged other EU countries to follow suit. Poland, the UK, Czech Republic, and Bulgaria also have restrictions in place.

    They also show protests against the invasion today in Ankara, Turkey.

  220. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    It appears Russia’s clamp down on reporting on its invasion into Ukraine has continued, with access to Twitter being limited.

    Netblocks, an account that monitors the internet across the world – and has reported on connectivity issues in Ukraine since the war began, found that on some providers – there was no access.

    It comes hour after the Russian media regulator warned local media about their reporting. Ten outlets were censured for referring to the conflict as an “attack, invasion, or a declaration of war”.

  221. says

    Jason Stanley in the Guardian – “The antisemitism animating Putin’s claim to ‘denazify’ Ukraine.”

    It is easy to recognize, in Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, the roadmap laid out in recent years by Dugin and Prokhanov, major figures in Putin’s Russia. Both Dugin and Prokhanov viewed an independent Ukraine as an existential threat to their goal, which Timothy Snyder, in his 2018 book The Road to Unfreedom, describes as “a desire for the return of Soviet power in fascist form”.

    Much more at the link, of course. I recommend both Stanley’s book How Fascism Works and Snyder’s The Road to Unfreedom.

  222. says

    Update to blf’s #46 above (same link) – “Station Break: Vaxman is recovering from COVID. :)”:

    UPDATE(2/25/22): Whew! Finally breaking out of the COVID rut. My fever broke yesterday, and I’m feeling MUCH better today. I slept non-stop over the past 5 days. It’s the longest I haven’t used a phone or computer since I can remember. In fact, I just learned yesterday that Russia invaded Ukraine! By the way, this is what ACTUAL tyranny looks like anti-vaxxers! It’s not losing your job because you are afraid of a needle. It’s having cluster bombs dropping on your head.

    As an aside, my constant fever dream over the past 5 days was me scrolling through imaginary anti-vaxxer facebook profiles. It was awful….

  223. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Lithuania has joined its Baltic neighbours Estonia and Latvia in closing its airspace to Russian aircraft.

    Earlier on Saturday Estonia announced it would stop flights passing over or landing in the country, joining Latvia who already had restrictions in place.

    Russia responded in kind, introducing similar bans on flights from the countries.

    Poland, the UK, Czech Republic and Bulgaria also have closed their airspace.

    Hungary latest country to back Russia being stopped from using Swift

    Hungary has said it supports Russia being shut off from the Swift cross-border financial payments system, according to Poland’s prime minister.

    Mateusz Morawiecki said that he had spoken to Hungary’s prime minister Viktor Orbán on Saturday, where he had confirmed his support.

    Earlier on Saturday (see 9:28), Cyprus joined the list of countries who support the move. It was thought that getting Orbán’s support may have proved a roadblock to the proposal, which aims to affect Russian business and the economy, as he is often seen as Vladimir Putin’s closest EU ally – visiting him in early February.

    I think that should do it.

  224. says

    Guardian – “El Salvador’s former president charged over 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests”:

    Prosecutors in El Salvador have charged the former president Alfredo Cristiani over the 1989 massacre of six Jesuit priests that sparked international outrage.

    Prosecutors also announced charges against a dozen other people, including former military officers, over the massacre. The list of charges will apparently include murder, terrorism and conspiracy.

    The attorney general, Rodolfo Delgado, wrote on his Twitter account that his office “is determined to go after those accused of ordering this regrettable and tragic event”.

    The former president, who served from 1989 to 1994, has denied any involvement or knowledge of the plan to kill the priests.

    On 16 November 1989 an elite commando unit killed the six priests – five Spaniards and one Salvadoran – along with their housekeeper and the housekeeper’s daughter in the priests’ residence. The killers tried to make the massacre appear as though it had been carried out by leftist guerrillas.

    Attempts within El Salvador to investigate and prosecute the masterminds of the killings during the country’s civil war had been deflected by legal manoeuvres after the high court declared the 1993 amnesty established after the war to be unconstitutional in 2016….

    One of the murdered priests was liberation psychologist Ignacio Martín-Baró.

  225. blf says

    From the Gruaniad’s current one madman’s war live blog:

    Turkey to ban Russian warships from Black Sea
    Turkey will stop Russian warships from passing through [to] the Black Sea, according to Ukrainian prime minister Volodymyr Zelenskiy.

    In a tweet, Zelenskiy said that the country had pledged military and humanitarian support for Ukraine.

    Turkey will stop warships passing through the Dardanelles and Bosphorus straits, which connects the Black Sea to the Mediterranean.


    I presume there was also some behind-the-scenes diplomacy (Turkey is a member of Nato).

  226. blf says

    It isn’t Putin’s superyacht (see SC@260), but it’s a start, France seizes suspected Russian-owned ship in Channel (quoted essentially in full):

    French sea police have seized a ship in the [English] Channel that authorities suspect belongs to a Russian company targeted by EU sanctions over the war in Ukraine, a government official told Reuters.

    The cargo vessel transporting cars, which was headed for St Petersburg, is “strongly suspected of being linked to Russian interests targeted by the sanctions”, said Capt Veronique Magnin, of the French Maritime Prefecture.

    The ship was diverted to the port of Boulogne-sur-Mer in northern France between 3am and 4am local time, Magnin said, adding that checks were being carried out by customs officials and that the ship’s crew was “being cooperative”.

    The Russian embassy in France is seeking an explanation from authorities over the seizure, Russia’s RIA news agency quoted the embassy as saying.

    The French newspaper La Voix du Nord, which first reported the news, said the vessel was the Baltic Leader, which — according to — sails under a Russian flag.

    The company that owns the ship belongs to a Russian businessman who is on the EU’s list of sanctioned people, Magnin said.


    That makes me wonder if there are any presumably-Russian (super-)yachts, and especially any subject to sanctions / seizure(? arrest?), in this immediate area, which has maritime repair / inspection facilities they are known to use. It sounds like the French maritime police are on the case (and a fairly impressive-looking gunboat used by them sometimes docks in the village’s harbour).

  227. blf says

    How to pronounce and spell ‘Kyiv’, and why it matters:

    With Ukraine’s capital under siege from Russian forces it’s only fair that we outsiders get our language right

    Kiev or Kyiv?

    As Russian forces menace the Ukrainian capital and thousands flee, the very least onlookers around the world can do is learn how to say the name of the city under siege.

    The short answer is simple: Ukrainians call their capital “Kyiv” (kee-yiv), the spelling, a transliteration of the Ukrainian Київ. The Russian version is “Kiev” (kee-yev).

    The latter, based on transliteration from the Russian cyrillic Киев, became the internationally accepted name through the Soviet period and into the first years of this century, its recognisability enhanced perhaps by the eponymous chicken dish that became popular in the west in the 1970s.

    But it is now associated with the Russification of Ukraine, and in recent years more and more publications, governments, airports and geographical dictionaries have switched the spelling to the Ukrainian variant.

    “When I meet someone new, I like to pronounce their name the way they want it pronounced in their language, which is why I think it’s right to pronounce it ‘Kyiv’ as close to the Ukrainian as possible,” said Andrii Smytsniuk, Ukrainian language teacher at Cambridge University.

    [… historical background…]

    There are several letters of the alphabet unique to Ukrainian, for example the ї in Київ, and enough differences in vocabulary to make it hard for Russophones to understand Ukrainians when they speak in their tongue.

    Not surprisingly, the Ukrainian government mounted a campaign four years ago to secure international approval for the name of its capital city. There is even a popular Twitter hashtag, #KyivNotKiev.

    Muttering outloud to myself (as per usual), I seem to have been (quite unknowingly!) pronouncing Kyiv in the Russian manner.

  228. blf says

    Update and correction to me@349, also from the Grauniad’s current one madman’s war live blog:

    There’s some confusion about Ukrainian president Volodymyr Zelenskiy’s claim earlier that Turkey had pledged to close the straits to access the Black Sea.

    Russia, via the Interfax news agency, had said it has had no official notification of the closure. It’s believed that Zelenskiy’s tweet may have been a request for Turkey to take action, rather than a confirmation that it would be in place.

    The Montreux Convention, which governs the Bosporus and Dardanelles straits, says that ships from Black Sea states will be allowed to return to port during wartime. If Turkey did go ahead and ban warships from the strait, it would break the convention.

    I have no idea what the Montreux Convention says, but speculate it could be interpreted so to (1) Not allow (Russian) ships not based (home-ported) at a Black Sea port to enter the Black Sea; and/or (2) Isn’t Russia denying it’s “at war”? — so if it’s not at war, does the Montreux Convention apply?


    Turkey has said it is yet to make a decision on closing its straits between the Mediterannean and the Black Sea to the Russian Navy […].

    It’s the first official clarification since Zelenskiy said on Saturday that Turkey had agreed to close the waterways to warships — which would have been a big defensive boon for Ukraine.

    According to Reuters, a Turkish official said it “has not made a decision to close the straits to Russian ships”.


    The Russian Navy has already been responsible for casualties on the coast of Ukraine and on islands in the Black Sea.

  229. lumipuna says

    SC quoting Vice at 337:

    It may seem confusing that much of the American far-right, who increasingly describe any policies they dislike as “communism,” would be rooting for Russia, given the history of the Soviet Union.

    Once in a while, I see something written along these lines. It’s been 30 years. I’d think if any Americans still associate Russia with communism, they probably aren’t hip enough to be posting on social media about global politics of the day.

    In any case, as noted above, in US rightwing (not just far right) parlance, “communism” seems to mean mostly “freedom-hating government oppressing people for the sake of control”, which is mostly same as “policies I dislike”. The flipside of this should be that “communism” doesn’t have much to do with Soviet Union, or at least its economic policies.

  230. blf says

    SC@345, Thanks for the update on Vaxman’s improving condition.

    In the comments on their updated report was this, from the anti-vax nutters in New Zealand: We ran out of foil this evening. You’ll need it tomorrow before the government EMR (Electro-Magentic Radiation) attacks that the MSM is not reporting. If you donate to @NzFubar we will distribute more foil from the First Aid tent […]

    This is a fecking hilarious image at the link of a bunch of the nutters wearing tin-foil hats. Astonishingly, based (at the moment (but see below)) solely on comments, it’s real. They are wearing tinfoil hats, are claiming they work, and are claiming there are EMR attacks on them.

    Speculation is there is an outbreak of Covid-19 amongst the nutters, which they are denying with the exceptionally unlikely EMR attacks gibberish (rather like those States anti-vax loons who blamed an Anthrax attack). Further comments indicate someone who didn’t know what they were doing waved around a device to measure magnetic fields, got a reading of all 1µT (which is nothing), and… (so the image and hats might be a parody?)

    I particularly liked this comment:

    You’re wearing tin foil to protect yourselves from something that doesn’t exist, while you protest things that either didnt happen or have been already stated to be temporary measures, while you all infect each other with illnesses that do exist. That’s some big brain shit

    There’s an interview with the nutter who made the readings, Protesters turn to tinfoil hats as increasing sickness blamed on Government beaming radiation rays (video), making it obvious he has no clew what’s on about. Both that article and Wellington protesters fear secret tech weapons at Parliament say the nutters think the police, government, reptilians, Baron Silas von Greenback, Putin, and other imaginary and real monsters have installed all sorts of high-tech gizmos in the nearby Anglican Cathedral of St Paul, claims apparently initially started by the police putting some surveillance cameras on the roof.

  231. blf says

    Follow-up to me@349 & @352 on the Black Sea and Montreux Convention, from the Grauniad’s current one madman’s war live blog:

    If Turkey chooses to close the Bosphorus and Dardanelles to Russian warships, preventing them from accessing the Black Sea, it would be a significant move in terms of both cutting off long term Russian support to their troops in Ukraine as well as a significant show of support to Ukraine.

    A ban would prevent Russian warships normally permanently stationed around the world from sailing into the Black Sea to assist troops in Ukraine. However, Turkey is unable to prevent ships permanently stationed in the Black Sea from returning to their bases.

    Shipping industry experts Lloyds List pointed out yesterday that commercial traffic through the Bosphorus has already slowed significantly in the past two days.


    Turkey’s foreign ministry described the Russian invasion as “unacceptable,” but described it as a “military operation,” rather than a war, as doing so has implications for the Montreux convention which lays out Turkish control of the straits. The convention defines both Turkish control as well as sets limits on the size, tonnage and duration of warships that can cross the straits, although warships belonging to countries bordering the Black Sea are normally able to pass unrestricted.

    Foreign minister, Mevlüt Çavuşoğlu, laid out Turkey’s position regarding the closure of the straits to Daily Hürriyet yesterday, stating that officials are currently discussing whether the conflict meets the definition of a war under the Montreux convention. If officials decide that the definition has been met, this allows them to block warships from both Ukraine and Russia from transiting the straits, although the move is likely to be far more significant for the Russian side.

    “Turkey can stop the passage of warships through the Straits,” he said, adding that the Montreux Convention stipulates that “if there is a demand for ships from the warring countries to return to their bases, then it must be allowed.”


    So it seems Turkey / Nato are thinking along the lines I speculated in @352, access to the Black Sea can be closed except for warships returning to base, provided there’s a “war” on.

  232. lumipuna says

    Here’s some random understanding I’ve gathered:

    Vladimir Putin: “Ukrainian government is nazifascist, which is an ideology about wanting to genocide Russian people, as we all remember from the 1940s. Ukrainian nazifascism is evident in the totally real genocide against ethnic Russians, including but not limited to Ukrainian-occupied parts of the free nations of Donetsk and Luhansk. Also, Ukraine isn’t a real country because Russians and Ukrainians are basically the same people. Remember history. Kiev’an Rus, the Empire, the Union. Many Ukrainians were killed in the 1940s because German nazifascists couldn’t tell them from Russians. The only known solution to a violent nazifascist government is to send in lots of peacekeepers and delete and reinstall the government.”

  233. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Germany has dropped a block on lethal weapons connected to it being transferred, to allow 400 rocket-propelled grenade (RPG) launchers to be sent from the Netherlands to Ukraine.

    According to Politico’s David Herszenhorn, it could represent a major shift in European military assistance.

    Until now, Germany had a longstanding practice of not allowing lethal weapons it controlled or originally sold to be sent to war zones. Estonia had wanted to send weapons to Ukraine, but because Germany had sold them to Finland, who Estonia had bought them from, Germany had a veto.

  234. says

    Dan Lamothe, WaPo:

    A Saturday morning background briefing with a senior U.S. defense official about the war in Ukraine just concluded.

    First takeaway: Russian reconnaissance troops are now in and near Kyiv, the capital, even as main Russian advanced is about 30 kilometers north, official said.

    The official declined to say whether these forces are Spetsnaz [special forces]. By virtue of their role, they’d attempt to prep the battlefield for further advancement.

    That said: Stiff resistance remains. Russian forces are “increasingly frustrated” by their lack of momentum, official says.

    Airspace over Ukraine remains contested, U.S. official says, in contradiction to expectations before the invasion that Russia would quickly seize control of the skies.

    Ukrainian jets and air-defense systems are active and continue to “engage and deny,” U.S. official says.

    U.S. official says that while the Russians advance on Kyiv and there is fighting there, the heaviest battles in Ukraine were still near the northeastern city of Kharkiv.

    All of that could quickly change, of course.

    As of Saturday morning in Washington, the Pentagon had observed more than 250 missiles launched on Ukrainian targets, up from more than 200 on Friday, senior U.S. defense official says.

    Senior U.S. defense official about Russian missile attacks:

    “There’s no doubt in our mind that civilian infrastructure and civilian areas are being hit as a result of these barrages.”

    Pentagon also notes the expanding refugee population.

    “We do continue to see increases in the numbers of people trying to leave the country,” senior U.S. defense official says. “The lines are stacking up on the Ukrainian side of the border with Poland. In some cases very long.”

    Shortly before this briefing, the State Department announced an additional $350 million in security assistance going to the Ukrainians. U.S. defense official says that will include more Javelin missiles, anti-armor weapons that the Ukrainians want.

    Weapons deliveries to Ukraine occurred via transport plane prior to invasion. That isn’t happening now. But U.S. official says deliveries have continued, even in last few days.

    Asked about ground routes, official implied that would be one possibility but did not specify.

  235. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    115,000 people cross from Ukraine to Poland since invasion

    Poland’s deputy interior minister Pawel Szefernaker said 115,000 people have crossed into Poland from Ukraine since the invasion began.

    Just four hours earlier he had put the figure at 100,000 according to Agency Frence-Presse. On Friday alone 50,000 were thought to have sought refuge.

    “At this moment, there are 115,000 people who have crossed the Ukrainian-Polish border since the war erupted” on Thursday, Szefernaker told reporters in the border village of Dorohusk, eastern Poland.

    “More than 150,000 Ukrainian refugees have now crossed into neighbouring countries, half of them to Poland, and many to Hungary, Moldova, Romania and beyond,” UN refugee chief Filippo Grandi tweeted on Saturday.

  236. says

    Bianna Golodryga:

    Just listened to an interview with the father of a Russian soldier who had been captured in Ukraine. After praying for his son’s safety, he said, with visible anger: “Why aren’t the sons of oligarchs out there fighting this senseless war? Where are they? Who needs this war?”

    And no, the interview was not on Russian state tv. But rather, @tvrain, which is doing incredible work, in the face of multiple threats from regulators. All of the brave independent journalists in Russia should be commended and supported. Not to mention the ones in Ukraine too.

    Also notable from that father was a clear lack of faith in Russian officials to do everything to bring his son back home safely. He said: “if need be, I’ll go negotiate with the Ukrainians myself.”

  237. lumipuna says

    Until now, Germany had a longstanding practice of not allowing lethal weapons it controlled or originally sold to be sent to war zones. Estonia had wanted to send weapons to Ukraine, but because Germany had sold them to Finland, who Estonia had bought them from, Germany had a veto.

    The weapons mentioned above are Soviet-made artillery pieces that were first deployed in East Germany, then inherited by Germany, sold to Finland and then to Estonia, which wanted to gift (?) them to Ukraine a couple months ago, when Ukraine was only a bit like a war zone. Finland also had a contractual veto for forwarding the guns, and eventually gave green light early this week. Now I guess Germany will also approve, unless the Ukrainian military breaks down first.

  238. blf says

    New URL for the Meduza live blog.

    Some snippets (I still haven’t worked out if it’s possible to link to individual entry):

    More than 200 municipal deputies from several Russian cities have signed an open letter opposing the war against Ukraine. The signatories hail from Moscow, St Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and a number of other cities. “The decision to attack was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin personally. We are convinced that the citizens of Russia didn’t give him such a mandate,” the letter reads. “We urge you not to participate in the aggression and not to approve of it. Please, don’t be silent: only massive popular condemnation can stop the war.”

    Federal censor Roskomnadzor has threatened to block 10 news outlets for reporting on Russian attacks against cities and civilians in Ukraine. The agency also warned the publications that they will be blocked if they continue referring to Russia’s special military operation in the Donbas using the terms “invasion,” “attack,” or “declaration of war.” The authorities sent formal notices to Ekho Moskvy, Mediazona, The New Times, Novaya Gazeta, Dozhd, and other independent outlets.

    Russia’s national space agency has suspended Soyuz rocket launches from the Guiana Space Center from French Guiana in retaliation for the European Union’s sanctions against Russia for the invasion of Ukraine. Roscosmos supplies Soyuz vehicles as part of the European Space Agency’s program.

  239. says

    From today’s Meduza liveblog:

    Russia’s federal censor orders 10 news outlets to cease independent invasion coverage or be blocked

    Federal censor Roskomnadzor has threatened to block 10 news outlets for reporting on Russian attacks against cities and civilians in Ukraine. The agency also warned the publications that they will be blocked if they continue referring to Russia’s “special military operation in the Donbas” using the terms “invasion,” “attack,” or “declaration of war.” The authorities sent formal notices to Ekho Moskvy, Mediazona, The New Times, Novaya Gazeta, Dozhd, and other independent outlets.

    Ukraine’s losses: Tallying military and civilian casualties in the first two days of the war, Ukraine’s Health Minister reported 198 killed and 1,115 injured as of Saturday morning. The fatalities include three children, and another 33 children were wounded.

    Anti-war medics: A group of more than 300 Russian medical workers have signed an open letter to Vladimir Putin voicing their strong opposition to Moscow’s attack on Ukraine. “Our relatives, friends, patients, and colleagues are in the territories under attack. There isn’t a single person among them who would benefit from the ongoing bloodshed,” the letter reads. “We cannot stand on the sidelines of pain and suffering, which are increasing every minute.”

    Moldova shuts down Sputnik news: The Moldovan authorities have blocked the website Sputnik Moldova, the local edition of the Russian state-owned news agency. Its editorial office was also informed that Sputnik Moldova will have to stop its radio broadcasts as of March 7.

    Cyber attacks: Both Russian Railways and Russia’s national space agency, Roscosmos, reported that their websites suffered DDoS attacks on Saturday.

    Arrests in Russia: According to OVD-Info, at least 2,490 people have been arrested at anti-war protests in cities across Russia since February 24.

    Tech troubles: Users in Russia have reported having problems accessing Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram over the past 24 hours. According to the Net Freedoms Project, as of a few hours ago, Russia’s censorship agency has started throttling Twitter and the platform is only available via VPN.

    Kyiv calls on the Red Cross: Ukrainian Deputy Prime Minister Iryna Vereshchuk has appealed to the International Red Cross to help remove the bodies of Russian soldiers killed in Ukraine. “These are thousands of bodies of invaders […] The Russian Federation should know how many such bodies lie on Ukrainian soil,” Vereshchuk said in a public statement.

    Ukraine’s capital extends its curfew: From February 26–28, Kyiv will be under curfew from 5:00 p.m. to 8:00 a.m., announced Mayor Vitaly Klitschko. “All civilians on the street during the curfew will be considered members of enemy sabotage and reconnaissance groups,” the mayor warned.

    Another anti-war appeal: More than 200 municipal deputies from several Russian cities have signed an open letter opposing the war against Ukraine. The signatories hail from Moscow, St. Petersburg, Novosibirsk, and a number of other cities. “The decision to attack was made by Russian President Vladimir Putin personally. We are convinced that the citizens of Russia didn’t give him such a mandate,” the letter reads. “We urge you not to participate in the aggression and not to approve of it. Please, don’t be silent: only massive popular condemnation can stop the war.”

    A petition opposing the war launched by prominent Russian human rights activist Lev Ponomarev has gathered more than 750,000 signatures.

  240. lumipuna says

    Irony poisoning – “On a special Saturday edition of Russian propaganda talk show Vremya Pokazhet, Maria Butina condemns the Kyiv authorities for handing out rifles because ‘people don’t know how to handle them and a child might be killed at home’

    IIRC, Butina was that gun industry lobbyist who worked in the US several years ago and did a little spying on the side. She served 15 months in a US prison and was sent home to Russia, where she built some sort of pundit career out of having been a “political prisoner”. I now see she still likes snarking about anti-gun arguments.

  241. blf says

    lumipuna@366, Seems to be, from Ye Pffft! of All Knowledge:

    Beginning in 2011, she [Maria (or Mariya) Butina] worked as an assistant for Aleksandr Torshin, a former member of the Federation Council, a member of Vladimir Putin’s United Russia party, and a deputy governor of the Central Bank of Russia. In this role, she worked to infiltrate conservative groups in the US, including the National Rifle Association, as part of an effort to promote Russian interests in the 2016 United States presidential election. The Senate Intelligence Committee later concluded that she attempted to persuade the Trump campaign to establish a secret communications back channel with Russia.

    In July 2018 […] Butina was arrested by the FBI and charged with acting as an agent of the Russian Federation “without prior notification to the Attorney General.” In December 2018, she pleaded guilty to felony charges of conspiracy to act as an unregistered foreign agent of the Russian state […]


    In 2021, she visited Alexei Navalny, who was on hunger strike, in prison, stating that the conditions in the prison are better than in hotels in the Altai Territory, and Alexei himself is eating candy, not starving. In October 2021, she became a member of the State Duma representing Kirov Oblast for the United Russia party.

  242. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky said on Twitter that the largest demonstration in Estonian history took place today, and thanked president Alar Karis and Estonians for “their solidarity in these difficult times”.

    It follows demonstrations from across the world – including the UK on Saturday – expressing support for Ukraine and revulsion at Russia’s invasion.

  243. says

    An update from Mark Sumner:

    Three days into Russia’s senseless war of aggression some locations in Ukraine are becoming familiar. It’s not just the Capitol of Kyiv. It’s a stretch of highway near Kharkiv, a much fought over bridge in the middle of Kherson, a tiny island off the coast where no one lives … but where 13 men and women died rather than surrender.

    Our picture of these places is far from complete. We see them in flashes, momentarily appearing in tweets and news reports next to the words “was taken,” “was lost,” or simply “has survived.” We see them backlit by explosions. We see them entering into history, even while we watch. We certainly don’t see them in full; we’re getting the trailer, but missing the film. More stories will emerge from each of these places, and from too many others. Those stories will have the sound and terror and elation and disgust and everything else we’re not getting at the moment. Let’s just hope there is someone to tell them.

    As the sun came up on Saturday, Kyiv is still there. After warnings that the city was facing its most dangerous hours so far, the night was full of statements that involved the words “heavy fighting.” But it’s still there. Also still there—in spite of a stepped-up Russian propaganda effort that tried to make people think otherwise—President Volodymyr Zelenskyy and the other leaders of the elected government. On Friday evening, the U.S. offered to assist Zelenskyy in getting out of Kyiv to ensure the continuance of the Ukrainian government. Zelenskyy had a very different idea of where he should be.

    “The fight is here,” he said. “I need ammunition, not a ride.” […]


  244. says

    Followup to comment 371.

    Also from Mark Sumner:

    Warning: This morning has seen a large increase in the number of Russian bots and propaganda on Twitter and other social media. Much of this has been aimed at spreading either rumors that Ukraine is in some way surrendering, or that the U.S. and other allies are abandoning Ukraine. Check unfamiliar sources.

    At least two pieces of invalid information have already made past updates here — both of them actually from accredited media sites — so beware of any news that looks too dire, or too good.

    Overnight, Russian media and social media propaganda spread a rumor that Zelenskyy had fled from Ukraine and was somewhere “safe” outside the country. An even larger flood of bots and propaganda accounts swooped in to express their disgust for how Zelenskyy had deserted Ukraine,

    Then there was another flood of reports that Zelenskyy had ordered the Ukrainian military to lay down arms, and that anyone still fighting was disloyal.

    Which promoted the Ukrainian president to release video putting paid to both rumors.

    Translation: “There’s a lot of fake info telling that I ordered the Ukrainian army to surrender. So, listen here: I’m here. We are not putting our weapons down, we are going to protect our country. Our weapons are our truth, it’s our country, our children and we will protect them.”

  245. says

    When everybody is against you, Putin, you’ve probably done something seriously wrong:

    […] The International Olympic Committee (IOC) issued a statement on Thursday condemning Russia’s invasion into its neighboring country, and it took its disapproval a step further on Friday, urging international sport organizations to relocate or cancel their sporting events in Russia and Belarus.

    “The IOC [executive board] today urges all International Sports Federations to relocate or cancel their sports events currently planned in Russia or Belarus. They should take the breach of the Olympic Truce by the Russian and Belarussian governments into account and give the safety and security of the athletes absolute priority. The IOC itself has no events planned in Russia or Belarus,” the IOC said on Friday.

    […] Ahead of a World Cup qualifying semi-final that was set to be hosted in Russia next month, the president of the Polish Football Federation said Poland would not be participating, according to Sports Illustrated.

    “No more words, time to act! Due to the escalation of the aggression of the Russian Federation towards Ukraine the Polish national team does not intend to play the play-off match against Russia. We are in talks with and federations to bring forward a joint statement to FIFA,” the president, Cezary Kulesza, tweeted on Saturday.

    Ukrainian NBA players Svi Mykhailiuk and Alex Len issued a joint statement on Thursday condemning the attack.

    “A great tragedy befell our dear homeland Ukraine. We categorically condemn the war. Ukraine is a peaceful, sovereign state inhabited by people who want to decide their own destiny,” the two players said. “We pray for our families, friends, relatives and all the people who are in the territory of Ukraine. We hope for an end to this terrible war as soon as possible.”

    […] Russian athletes have also stated their opposition to the war.

    “Please, no more war. It doesn’t matter who is in the war — Russia, Ukraine, different countries — we have to live in peace,” Washington Capitals superstar Alex Ovechkin said on Friday.

    Russian tennis star Andrey Rublev wrote on a TV camera lens “No war please” after winning a Dubai Tennis Championship’s semi-final match on Friday.


    Dear Putin, nobody likes you. Excerpt maybe Trump. Even Tucker Carlson is wavering in his devotion.

  246. says

    In comment 374 I typed “Excerpt” when I meant “Except.” Sigh.

    News from Ukraine continues to be a confusing mixture of Russian propaganda, real news, and news that changes by the minute. One example:

    Russia’s Defense Ministry said Saturday its forces have seized Melitopol, a city of 150,000 north of the annexed Crimean Peninsula. Ukraine has not commented on the claim, and Britain’s defense minister said the city was “still in Ukrainian hands.”

  247. says

    Sen. Ron Johnson:

    There is only one group of people responsible for the tragedies unfolding – Putin and his cronies. Europe must act with strength and resolve to prevent risking a wider conflict, and the U.S. must support our NATO allies and freedom loving people in this moment of extreme peril.

    Dan Goldman, lead counsel for the (first) House impeachment:

    You knowingly promoted Russian disinformation from known Russian assets in Ukraine to help Trump’s re-election in 2020, even though you knew it was all bogus. You spent the Fourth of July in Russia. You can try to whitewash your actions, but we remember.

    And let’s also not forget the 10-page letter that @SenRonJohnson wrote to the Republican leaders of the impeachment investigation defending and excusing Trump’s behavior towards Ukraine in 2019. That was before he used his Committee chairmanship to launder disinformation.

  248. says

    Thomas L. Friedman:

    […] “The world will never be the same.” In over four decades of reporting, I have rarely dared use that phrase. But I’m going there now in the wake of Vladimir Putin’s invasion of Ukraine.

    Our world is not going to be the same again because this war has no historical parallel. It is a raw, 18th-century-style land grab by a superpower — but in a 21st-century globalized world. This is the first war that will be covered on TikTok by super-empowered individuals armed only with smartphones, so acts of brutality will be documented and broadcast worldwide without any editors or filters. On the first day of the war, we saw invading Russian tank units unexpectedly being exposed by Google maps, because Google wanted to alert drivers that the Russian armor was causing traffic jams.

    Kind of funny in a horrifying way.

    You have never seen this play before.

    Yes, the Russian attempt to seize Ukraine is a throwback to earlier centuries — before the democracy revolutions in America and France — when a European monarch or Russian czar could simply decide that he wanted more territory, that the time was ripe to grab it, and so he did. And everyone in the region knew he would devour as much as he could and there was no global community to stop him.

    In acting this way today, though, Putin is not only aiming to unilaterally rewrite the rules of the international system that have been in place since World War II — that no nation can just devour the nation next door — he is also out to alter that balance of power that he feels was imposed on Russia after the Cold War.

    That balance — or imbalance in Putin’s view — was the humiliating equivalent of the Versailles Treaty’s impositions on Germany after World War I. In Russia’s case, it meant Moscow having to swallow NATO’s expansion not only to include the old Eastern European countries that had been part of the Soviet Union’s sphere of influence, like Poland, but even, in principle, states that were part of the Soviet Union itself, like Ukraine.

    I see many people citing Robert Kagan’s fine book “The Jungle Grows Back” as a kind of shorthand for the return of this nasty and brutish style of geopolitics that Putin’s invasion manifests. But that picture is incomplete. Because this is not 1945 or 1989. We may be back in the jungle — but today the jungle is wired. It is wired together more intimately than ever before by telecommunications; satellites; trade; the internet; road, rail and air networks; financial markets; and supply chains. So while the drama of war is playing out within the borders of Ukraine, the risks and repercussions of Putin’s invasion are being felt across the globe — even in China, which has good cause to worry about its friend in the Kremlin.

    Welcome to World War Wired — the first war in a totally interconnected world. […]

    “It’s been less than 24 hours since Russia invaded Ukraine, yet we already have more information about what’s going on there than we would have in a week during the Iraq war,” wrote Daniel Johnson, who served as an infantry officer and journalist with the U.S. Army in Iraq, in Slate on Thursday afternoon. “What is coming out of Ukraine is simply impossible to produce on such a scale without citizens and soldiers throughout the country having easy access to cellphones, the internet and, by extension, social media apps. A large-scale modern war will be livestreamed, minute by minute, battle by battle, death by death, to the world. What is occurring is already horrific, based on the information released just on the first day.”

    The outcome of this war will depend in large part on the will of the rest of the world to deter and roll back Putin’s blitzkrieg by primarily using economic sanctions and by arming the Ukrainians with antiaircraft and anti-tank weaponry to try to slow his advance. Putin may also be forced to consider the death toll of his own comrades.

    Will Putin be brought down by imperial overstretch? It is way too soon to say. […]

    Russia is in the process of forcibly taking over a free country with a population of 44 million people, which is a little less than one-third the size of Russia’s population. And the majority of these Ukrainians have been struggling to be part of the democratic, free-market West for 30 years and have already forged myriad trade, cultural and internet ties to European Union companies, institutions and media.

    [Putin] has the firepower to bring Ukraine to heel. But in this modern era we have never seen an unfree country, Russia, try to rewrite the rules of the international system and take over a free country that is as big as Ukraine — especially when the unfree country, Russia, has an economy that is smaller than that of Texas.

    […] Thanks to rapid globalization, the E.U. is already Ukraine’s biggest trading partner — not Russia. […] If Putin doesn’t untangle those ties, Ukraine will continue drifting into the arms of the West — and if he does untangle them, he will strangle Ukraine’s economy. And if the E.U. boycotts a Russia-controlled Ukraine, Putin will have to use Russia’s money to keep Ukraine’s economy afloat.

    Was that factored into his war plans? It doesn’t seem like it. […]

    As this war unfolds on TikTok, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter, Putin cannot closet his Russian population — let alone the rest of the world — from the horrific images that will come out of this war as it enters its urban phase. […]

    And who knows how those images will affect Poland, particularly as it gets overrun by Ukrainian refugees. I particularly mention Poland because it is Russia’s key land bridge to Germany and the rest of Western Europe. As strategist Edward Luttwak pointed out on Twitter, if Poland just halts truck and rail traffic from Russia to Germany, “as it should,” it would create immediate havoc for Russia’s economy, because the alternative routes are complicated and need to go through a now very dangerous Ukraine.

    […] Some super-empowered Polish citizens with a few roadblocks, pickups and smartphones could choke Russia’s whole economy in this wired world.

    This war with no historical parallel won’t be a stress test just for America and its European allies. It’ll also be one for China. […] “The interests of China and Russia today are not identical,” Nader Mousavizadeh, founder and C.E.O. of the global consulting firm Macro Advisory Partners, told me. “China wants to compete with America in the Super Bowl of economics, innovation and technology — and thinks it can win. Putin is ready to burn down the stadium and kill everyone in it to satisfy his grievances.”

    The dilemma for the Chinese, added Mousavizadeh, “is that their preference for the kind of order, stability and globalization that has enabled their economic miracle is in stark tension with their resurgent authoritarianism at home and their ambition to supplant America — either by China’s strength or America’s weakness — as the world’s dominant superpower and rules setter.”

    I have little doubt that in his heart China’s president, Xi Jinping, is hoping that Putin gets away with abducting Ukraine and humiliating the U.S. — all the better to soften up the world for his desire to seize Taiwan and fuse it back to the Chinese motherland.

    But Xi is nobody’s fool. […] China’s economy is more dependent on Ukraine than Russia’s. According to Reuters, “China leapfrogged Russia to become Ukraine’s biggest single trading partner in 2019, with overall trade totaling $18.98 billion last year, a nearly 80 percent jump from 2013. … China became the largest importer of Ukrainian barley in the 2020-21 marketing year,” and about 30 percent of all of China’s corn imports last year came from farms in Ukraine.

    […] China overtook the United States as the European Union’s biggest trading partner in 2020, and Beijing cannot afford for the E.U. to be embroiled in conflict with an increasingly aggressive Russia and unstable Putin. China’s stability depends — and the legitimacy of the ruling Communist Party rests — on Xi’s ability to sustain and grow his already massive middle class. And that depends on a stable and growing world economy.

    I don’t expect China to impose sanctions on Russia, let alone arm the Ukrainians, […] All that Beijing has done so far is mumble that Putin’s invasion was “not what we would hope to see” — while quickly implying that Washington was a “culprit” for “fanning up flames” with NATO expansion and its recent warnings of an imminent Russian invasion.

    So China is obviously torn, but of the three key superpowers with nuclear weapons — the U.S., China and Russia — China, by what it says or doesn’t say, holds a very big swing vote on whether Putin gets away with his rampage of Ukraine or not.

    […] if China has any pretense of supplanting the U.S. as the world leader, it will have to do more than mumble.

    Finally, there is something else Putin will find hiding in plain sight. In today’s interconnected world, a leader’s “sphere of influence” is no longer some entitlement from history and geography, but rather it is something that has to be earned and re-earned every day by inspiring and compelling others to follow you.

    The musician and actress Selena Gomez has twice as many followers on Instagram — over 298 million — as Russia has citizens. Yes, Vladimir, I can hear you laughing from here and echoing Stalin’s quip about the pope: “How many divisions does Selena Gomez have?”

    She has none. But she is an influencer with followers, and there are thousands and thousands of Selenas out there on the World Wide Web, including Russian celebrities who are posting on Instagram about their opposition to the war. And while they cannot roll back your tanks, they can make every leader in the West roll up the red carpet to you, so you, and your cronies, can never travel to their countries. You are now officially a global pariah. I hope you like Chinese and North Korean food.

    […] Vladimir, the first day of this war was the best day of the rest of your life. I have no doubt that in the near term, your military will prevail, but in the long run leaders who try to bury the future with the past don’t do well. In the long run, your name will live in infamy.

    […] you started this war in the middle of a raging pandemic. And I have to admit that that is what is most scary about this World War Wired. The long run can be a long way away and the rest of us are not insulated from your madness. That is, I wish that I could blithely predict that Ukraine will be Putin’s Waterloo — and his alone. But I can’t, because in our wired world, what happens in Waterloo doesn’t stay in Waterloo.

    […] Putin has more unchecked power than any other Russian leader since Stalin. And Xi has more unchecked power than any other Chinese leader since Mao. But in Stalin’s day, his excesses were largely confined to Russia and the borderlands he controlled. And in Mao’s day, China was so isolated, his excesses touched only the Chinese people.

    […] Never have the leaders of two of the three most powerful nuclear nations — Putin and Xi — had more unchecked power and never have more people from one end of the world to the other been wired together with fewer and fewer buffers. So, what those two leaders decide to do with their unchecked power will touch virtually all of us directly or indirectly.

    Putin’s invasion of Ukraine is our first real taste of how crazy and unstable this kind of wired world can get. It will not be our last.

  249. KG says

    I’d think if any Americans still associate Russia with communism, they probably aren’t hip enough to be posting on social media about global politics of the day. – lumipuna@353

    Not so. I’ve seen a number of (anti-Putin) tweets by twits who still seem to think Putin’s Russia is communist.

  250. says

    Another update from Mark Sumner:

    It’s night again in Ukraine, which brings its own set of risks and dangers. At this point, dozens of Russian saboteurs and infiltrators have been caught in Kyiv and other cities, where they’ve being trying to start fires, create havoc, and mark targets for Russian attacks. There’s no doubt that many more have gone unnoticed, and the appearance of spray-painted X’s on roof tops, and flashing window lights at night shows that Russian agents are having some success at indicating locations of interest to Russian military forces.

    On the other hand, the simple fact that Russian forces are in there with spray cans is a different kind of signal — a signal that Russia doesn’t have an adequate supply of high tech weapons to make the kind of attacks that might be expected before such an invasion. Spray paint isn’t the kind of tool that’s necessary when you have centimeter-scale models of the terrain and building, and missiles being guided to their targets with military-grade GPS (or Russian GLONASS). Reports have also come out that Russia missed taking out much of Ukraine’s air defense because their intelligence was simply poor.

    That last paragraph above is a good analysis.

    Likewise, while the nights have brought some heavy bombardments from GRAD missiles and even pitched battles between armor units, Russia hasn’t been making major inroads into Ukraine under the cover of darkness. U.S. forces prefer to fight at night, because they have the night vision systems to give them a significant advantage over less well equipped opponents. From the Russian forces that have been destroyed or captured so far, there is little to no sign that Russian troops are equipped with such systems.

    This doesn’t mean the Russians aren’t formidable. They have systems a couple of generations improved over most of those being used by Ukraine […] Russia may have lost over 1,500 troops, but Putin can just get out the pitchfork and shovel in thousands more.

    Still, every day is bringing a higher price, not just in men killed and equipment lost, but in the unity of a world gathering itself against Russia. Even autocratic leaders like Hungary’s Viktor Orbán can see which way the wind is blowing. Russia isn’t just losing the war so far, and it’s not just losing it’s economy. It’s losing respect. It’s losing its tentative claims to be a superpower in any sense other than sitting on a nest of aging nukes. Even the assumption that Russia would eventually win this thing, the “it’s just a matter of time,” that experts have been putting forward confidently, is starting to seem a little bit iffy.

    That bear … doesn’t he look kind of mangy?


  251. says

    Hmm. This could be interesting.

    Bloomberg reports that the U.S. is weighing a different kind of sanction against Russian banks, one that could hit even harder than removing them from SWIFT, and one that specifically targets the “$643 billion in reserves that Russian President Vladimir Putin had amassed ahead of his invasion of Ukraine.”

    Bloomberg link. The article is behind a paywall.


    […] A final decision hasn’t been made but the Biden administration is urgently considering all options in an attempt to deter Putin from further devastation in Ukraine, the people said, speaking on the condition of anonymity. The U.S. aims to make each move in conjunction with allies across Europe for maximum impact, they said.

    It’s unclear how advanced those discussions are. The issue of potentially targeting the Russian central bank, however, came up in a conversation in late January, according to a person familiar with the matter.

    A White House National Security Council spokeswoman declined to comment. The Bank of Russia didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

    While Russia has been steadily reducing reliance on foreign currency, the central bank still held 16.4% of its holdings in dollars at the end of June 2021, according to the latest official data, down from 22.2% a year earlier. The euro’s share was up at 32.2%.

    The move would be “devastating” for Russia, according to Tim Ash, a strategist at Bluebay Asset Management in London. “We would see the ruble crash.”

    Although the decision would be without precedent for an economy the size of Russia’s, the U.S. has previously sanctioned the central banks of adversaries. In 2019, the Treasury Department blacklisted the monetary authorities of Iran and Venezuela for funneling money that supported destabilizing activities in the respective regions. North Korea’s central bank is also blacklisted.

    Losing access to funds abroad could handcuff Russia’s central bank as it tries to shore up the ruble in the foreign-exchange market by selling hard currency. The direct interventions, announced earlier this week after Putin ordered his military to attack Ukraine, mark the first time the Bank of Russia waded into the market since 2014.

    Russia also kept 22% of its hoard in gold, most of which is held domestically and would be out of reach of western sanctions, while about 13% of the central bank’s holdings were in yuan.

  252. blf says

    Some more snippets from the Meduza live blog:

    Police in Belgorod have arrested Novaya Gazeta journalists Ilya Azar and Ivan Zhilin, as well as Radio Svoboda reporter Sergey Kazov-Kassia. This was first reported by 7×7 and later confirmed to Meduza by the journalists themselves, who spoke to us while still in police custody. The journalists were working on dispatches from the city, which is near the border with Ukraine.

    Russia’s Defense Ministry issued a statement accusing “select Russian media outlets” but “primarily” independent newspaper Novaya Gazeta of spreading fake news about the war with Ukraine. Novaya responded as follows: “In order for our newsroom to publish your information, it needs to be provided. The Defense Ministry has yet to give a response to our request.”

  253. says

    Charles P. Pierce:

    […] there is one thing that should not get lost in all the noisy speculation. Putin is a king thief. Moreover, he is a thief among thieves. Almost everyone who got wildly rich after the USSR came apart is at least half-a-thief. Putin is more than that.

  254. says

    Zelenskyy tweeted: “Germany has just announced the provision of anti-tank grenade launchers and stinger missiles to Ukraine. Keep it up, Chancellor @OlafScholz! Anti-war coalition in action!”

  255. lumipuna says

    KG at 381:

    I’ve seen a number of (anti-Putin) tweets by twits who still seem to think Putin’s Russia is communist.

    OK. I was actually already considering that, even in the days of Cold War, the US perception of Soviet “communism” was actually largely about USSR being an authoritarian hellhole and a scary foreign rival superpower. I forgot to consider that, since modern Russia is much of the same, it possibly elicits a familiar negative reaction that some Americans can only conceptualize as “communism”.

  256. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    Russians opposing the war: More than 1,500 people working in Russia’s IT industry have signed an open letter condemning the war against Ukraine. Moscow’s Garage Museum of Contemporary Art has also announced plans to reschedule its exhibitions until “the human and political tragedy stops unfolding in Ukraine.”

    Accusations against Belarus: The head of Ukraine’s State Border Service Serhiy Deyneko sent a letter to his Belarusian counterpart accusing Minsk of helping Russia wage a war against Ukraine. He closed the letter with the following message: “WE WILL WIN! BE DAMNED, BASTARDS! WITH DISDAIN!” (yes, in capital letters).

    Anti-war updates: More than 2,200 Russian architects and urban planners have signed an open letter opposing the invasion of Ukraine. Meanwhile, Doxa journal reports that Russian university students have started receiving warnings telling them to “remember the negative legal consequences” of taking part in anti-war rallies.

    I’m starting to lose track of the countries closing their airspace to Russian aircraft.

  257. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    Greece has summoned Russia’s ambassador to its foreign ministry, after it said six Greek nationals had been killed and six others wounded by Russian bombing near Mariupol in Ukraine.

    The Greek foreign ministry said the bombing took place on the outskirts of Sartana and Bugas villages, and one of those injured was a child, Reuters reported.

    “The death of our nationals creates grief and anger for this unacceptable Russian attack against civilians,” Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Greek prime minister, said in a statement.

  258. says

    Bianna Golodryga:

    2 of Putin’s biggest obsessions: global stature and top billing in sports, have been crushed over the past 3 days. Global leaders shunning instead of racing to meet him. Russian athletes publicly rejecting war, And St. Petersburg no longer hosting the Champions League final.

  259. says

    Moscow Times – “Russia’s Anti-War Lobby Goes Online”:

    The head of Russia’s state-run RT television is in no doubt. If fellow citizens oppose President Vladimir Putin’s action in Ukraine then they are no longer Russians.

    Margarita Simonyan, editor-in-chief of the English language international news network, is never one to mince her words and is used to making cutting remarks on Twitter in defense of Putin who she refers to simply as “leader.”

    “If you are ashamed of being Russian now, don’t worry, you are not Russian,” was her summation of the anti-war movement at home.

    Several thousand Russians demonstrated against the Russian invasion of Ukraine, but the police reaction was the usual one when it comes to Kremlin critics: hundreds of arrests.

    So the anti-war movement has moved online, where it is beginning to make itself heard and to garner support, some of it high-profile.

    Ukrainian flags adorn profile pictures and teary-eyed emojis are scattered liberally among the online statements. The hashtag #NoToTheWar was trending on Twitter on Saturday.

    Since early Thursday, when the invasion of Ukraine began, various Russian celebrities, journalists and bloggers have expressed their horror and helplessness, pleading for an immediate end to the war.

    In a highly symbolic move, the founders of the “Immortal Regiment,” an organization dear to the Kremlin because it is responsible for preserving the memory of the dead of World War II, called on the Putin “to cease fire,” describing the use of force as “inhuman.”

    Also two communist MPs who voted for the recognition of the independence of pro-Russian separatists in eastern Ukraine, have denounced the invasion of Russia’s neighbor.

    “I voted for peace, not for war. I voted for Russia to be a shield [for the separatists]… not for Kyiv to be bombed,” wrote MP Mikhail Matveyev.

    Addressing the celebrities and “thousands and thousands” of anonymous Russians denouncing the invasion, Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky thanked them and asked them to stop those who “lie to the whole world.”…

    More at the link.

  260. says

    Meduza liveblog:

    According to OVD-Info, at least 489 people were arrested at anti-war protests in 35 Russian cities today. In total, more than 3,000 people have been arrested at similar demonstrations across the country over the past three days.

  261. blf says

    At the Meduza live blog there’s an image of “The current flight path for Russian planes traveling from Kaliningrad to Moscow, shared by Kaliningrad’s governor”, which shows its entirely over water (meaning aircraft have to circle around to avoid airspaces of Poland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia. (Purely as a reminder, Kaliningrad (formerly Königsberg) is that Russian enclave surrounded by Poland.)

    Which reminds me of a slightly earlier entry at the Grauniad’s current one madman’s war live blog:

    Eight countries, including Czech Republic, Poland and the UK, have now introduced full or partial bans on Russian flights.

    Poland banned Russian airlines from its airspace on Friday, as did the the UK. Baltic countries Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania have each announced partial bans, as has Slovenia.

    [graphic at the link]

    Russia retaliated by banning UK aircraft from its airspace. It has also restricted flights from Bulgaria, Poland and the Czech Republic.

  262. blf says

    SC@403, Meduza (about ten minutes ago): “Unverified photos purportedly show paratroopers landing in Sofiivska Borschahivka, just outside Kyiv. […]” (my added emphasis).

  263. says

    Mark Sumner:

    It is still entirely possible, even likely, that the sheer weight of Russian numbers will crush organized Ukrainian resistance in the eastern part of the country, that Kyiv will fall, and that Putin will pull out some Russia-friendly despot to act as his mouthpiece while Ukraine “surrenders” to Russia. Oleg Deripaska is available. and since he played a key role in preventing Ukraine from becoming a NATO member over a decade ago, letting him strut around the ruins of the Ukrainian capitol seems with a fresh medal on the chest seems only fitting.

    But that doesn’t mean Russia will win this war. Because to win this fight now, Vladimir Putin would need to invent time travel.

    In just three days, Putin has done more damage to Russia than any opponent could manage without uncorking nuclear weapons. He has destroyed the nation’s economy — not just for the short term, but likely over a span of many years. He has hastened the severing of dependence on Russian oil and gas that had built up decades and with investments totaling in the hundreds of billions. He’s made sure that every financial firm, tech company, bank, and manufacturer is going to be starved of the funds and materials it needs to survive. To all intents, Vladimir Putin has blockaded his own country.

    If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine succeed militarily, that blockade will remain. If Russia’s invasion of Ukraine fails militarily, that blockade will remain. Putin has demonstrated that it is still possible to unite the planet — that you can still draw Emanuel Macron and Viktor Orbán into an alliance. All it took was launching the largest, and most foolish, invasion since World War II.

    What was it Donald Trump called this invasion? “Genius”? And “wonderful”? And “smart”? That should have been the signal to everyone. This is the man who went broke running casinos, and also the guy who claimed to be smarter than “all the generals.” When Trump likes your strategy, you know you’ve made a mistake.


  264. says

    blf @ #404, yes, it’s now been deleted. Annoyed that several people who are expert in these things were too quick to interpret the photo (which could be paratroopers, but still not known), but hope it isn’t paratroopers!

  265. says

    More of the incredible Ukrainian attitude toward the invaders. The word “palyanitsa” is a kind of shibboleth, in that Russians apparently say it in a distinctly different way than Ukrainians. So getting them to say this word is a kind of ID at a distance … though of course he doesn’t hesitate to walk right up to them, filming all the way, and lecturing them about his rights under the Ukrainian constitution.

    Video at the link

  266. blf says

    Apropos of nothing, my mouse’s rechargeable battery decided it wanted a recharge, so the mouse went on strike. This is not the extremely angry mouse in the Tardis, who gets even angrier if a battery is shoved up its… er, well, the computer mouse just lets out a few sharp squeaks and then settles down for being pushed, pulled, slide, clicked, and turnd on and off in an exciting manner, with occasional squeaks as the standby / replacement battery provides it with tingling shocks…

  267. says

    Social Media platforms are responding … at least to some degree:

    […] The head of security policy at Meta, the parent company of Facebook and Instagram, announced Friday night that Russian state media would not be able to earn money from ads on the company’s platforms.

    “We are now prohibiting Russian state media from running ads or monetizing on our platform anywhere in the world,” Nathaniel Gleicher tweeted. “We also continue to apply labels to additional Russian state media. These changes have already begun rolling out and will continue into the weekend.”

    Following the move, YouTube on Saturday said Russian channels, including state-owned network RT, would be barred from receiving money from ads on its platform, Reuters reported.

    YouTube is “pausing a number of channels’ ability to monetize on YouTube, including several Russian channels affiliated with recent sanctions,” the company said, according to Reuters.

    Twitter, meanwhile, said it was suspending ads in Ukraine and Russia amid the conflict.

    “We’re temporarily pausing advertisements in Ukraine and Russia to ensure critical public safety information is elevated and ads don’t detract from it,” Twitter Safety tweeted Friday.

    This comes as experts have said that Russian leaders and state-backed media are working to spread disinformation and propaganda amid the country’s invasion into Ukraine, according to NBC News.

    Facebook previously announced on Thursday that it was ramping up efforts to monitor posts and provide users with the ability to lock their profiles to private as “an extra layer of privacy and security” in response to the military conflict.

    Gleicher also said Saturday that Meta was rolling out additional security feature on Facebook.

    “In addition to rolling out Locked Profiles in Ukraine, we have also temporarily removed the ability to view and search the ‘Friends’ list for Facebook accounts in Ukraine to help protect people from being targeted,” he wrote on Twitter.


  268. says

    Not paratroopers, fortunately.


    BREAKING: EU and US agree to disconnect some Russian banks from Swift

    US + EU commit to removing selected Russian banks from Swift

    Will impose “restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian central bank from deploying its int’l reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions”

    Wary about the “some” and “selected” part.

  269. says

    Wonkette: “MTG Has Absolutely No Idea Who White Nationalist Standing Next To Her Even Is”

    This morning, Marjorie Taylor Greene dazzled CPAC at a panel titled “They Can’t Shut Us Up!” — in which she talked quite endlessly, on a stage in front of hundreds of people, about how she has been silenced. But it was what she got up to last night that has people talking. Because last night she gave another speech on another stage to another large audience about how she had been silenced, only this audience was made up of ardent white supremacists known as “Groypers” and the stage had been rented as part of an event hosted by one Nick Fuentes, leader of the Groypers and also one of the most well-known professional racists in the country.

    And now she’s claiming she has absolutely no idea who he even is.

    As entirely believable as it is that Marjorie Taylor Greene does not know something, it seems fairly unlikely that she did not know who Fuentes was, given that she stood next to him on a stage last night and also posed for a picture with him and Michelle Malkin, one of the worst people in the known universe. [Photo at the link]

    At AFPAC — America First PAC, the far-right white nationalist conference Fuentes started when he was banned from CPAC for actually being so awful that CPAC considered him a bad look — Fuentes introduced his surprise guest by saying that his dear friend Milo Yiannopoulos had hooked him up with her as a speaker. Greene came on stage, happily greeted this person she had never heard of in her life despite the fact that he’s extremely well known in her circles, and gleefully proclaimed “Well hello, canceled Americans” and gave a speech about how no one should be canceled.

    However, when confronted by CBS’s Robert Costa about this appearance last night, Greene insisted she knew nothing about him, never read anything about him, never watched his videos and knew nothing about his group, except that they are young people and she just really wanted to speak to young people about “America First.”

    “I do not know Nick Fuentes. I have never heard him speak, I have never seen a video. I do not know what his views are so I am not aligned with anything that may be controversial,” Greene said adding “What I can tell you is I went to his event last night to address his very large following because it’s a very young following and it’s a generation I’m extremely concerned about.”

    “It’s a white nationalist group,” Costa reiterated.

    “Excuse me, excuse me,” Green replied, pointing her finger in his face, “I’ll tell you exactly why I went. I went to talk to them about America First policies, and I talked to them about what’s important for our country going forward.”

    Then she tried to pivot to Russia.

    So she knew it was a very large following and a very young following, but she didn’t know that it was a white nationalist following.

    […] The very first thing that comes up, when Googling for Fuentes, reads “Nicholas Joseph Fuentes is an American far-right and white nationalist political commentator and live streamer.”

    It’s also not clear, from her speech, what she meant by talking to them about “America First” policies. She actually started talking about how her generation and her mother’s generation had handed this current generation a burden […] The burden is that they have to fight the Democratic Party, who are the Communist Party of America and also sinners who voted to destroy gender (???). Because trans people. Then she claimed abortion is cancel culture. At some point she got to deporting all of the immigrants, which I guess is where the “America First” nonsense comes in, as that is traditionally code for xenophobia.

    I skipped forward a bit into the 18 minute speech and Democrats were going to force everyone to drive electric vehicles, so that you have to rely on China to drive your car, and that was where I got off.

    Greene is hardly the first House Republican to rub elbows with Fuentes and his ragtag gang of sad white men crying about how no one will let them be the master race. Both Paul Gosar and Wendy Rogers have been courting them as well for some time now. The most likely scenario here was that Greene was testing the waters to see if palling around with known admirers of Adolf Hitler is something that hurts her or brings her street cred. Sadly, given the state of things, it’s probably the latter.


  270. says


    […] When you are a Republican and think something is bad but don’t have a good way to criticize it that doesn’t make your party look bad, that’s a socialism. Or a Marxism. One of the two.

    Although the problem with not bothering to know the definition of the thing you are supposedly so very scared of is that sometimes you end up advocating for that very thing, on accident.

    At CPAC this week, TPUSA’s Charlie Kirk accidentally did some Marxism while suggesting a socialist solution to a problem caused by capitalism. [Video at the link.]

    In an interview with Right Side Broadcasting Network’s Liz Willis, Kirk began talking about how it’s understandable — but terrifying — that kids these days are turning to socialism, because of how they can’t afford to live anywhere, they can’t afford to buy a house and they can’t afford to have kids.

    To be clear, that statement right there is Marxism. It’s literally Marxism. The capitalist view of things is that when these things occur, when things are horrible and impossible enough for them for a long enough time, people are then motivated to pull themselves up by their bootstraps and find success. The Marxist view is that they will embrace socialism and revolution. The term “American exceptionalism” was initially used to describe America’s supposed immunity to the Marxist rules of history — that because people here really bought into the idea that anyone had a chance to succeed if they worked hard enough. Of course, as this becomes less and less true — and more noticeably less true due to the internet making the country a much smaller place — it becomes harder to pretend.

    But I digress!

    Kirk actually had the chutzpah to say, during the interview, “I just think there’s an even bigger opportunity though, to say to the young person that is paying too much rent and is not having kids because it’s too expensive, we’re the party that’s going to make it easier to do those things.”

    Oh really? How? By lowering taxes on rich people? Oh! Or should we deregulate financial institutions so we can have a repeat of the Great Recession and the subprime mortgage crisis? That would be a swell idea. He could hand out new bootstraps, but that would be socialism.

    Somehow, Kirk tries to blame Biden’s “policies” for skyrocketing rent prices, which sure is odd given that rent prices have been skyrocketing for years. He fails to mention, of course, what these policies were. Is it the child tax credit? I’ll bet you it is not. Was it “examining the ways Trump fucked up the housing situation?”

    Biden directed the Department of Housing and Urban Development to “examine the effects of the previous Administration’s regulatory actions that undermined fair housing policies and laws” and use its findings to implement the Fair Housing Act’s standards as needed.

    Because that wouldn’t make any sense either.

    The administration did propose spending $318 billion on affordable housing at first, which didn’t happen, and then later proposed $170 billion for affordable housing, but that was in the Build Back Better bill that didn’t pass. While we’re sure Kirk could find some way to claim that funding for affordable housing made housing less affordable, somehow, that hasn’t happened.

    Hilariously, Kirk went on to say that what needs to happen is — wait for it — a national recovery plan. I don’t know about you, but that sure sounds pretty socialisty to me. It’s hard to imagine what a Republican national recovery program would look like. How would rich people paying less in taxes do anything to help people who cannot currently pay rent?

    Also talking about Marxism at CPAC was Marco Rubio. Now, you’d think that, being Cuban, Rubio might have some earthly idea about what Marxism is. As it turns out, he does not. Judging by the ten-minute speech he gave, he seems to think that Marxism is cancel culture and public health measures, which will inevitably lead to Christians not being allowed to quote the Bible. It is also possible that he wrote this speech by just pulling random right-wing scare words out of a hat.

    Via Florida Politics:

    “I believe there are a lot of people in this country influenced by Marxism that don’t even realize they’re being influenced by Marxism,” Rubio warned a conservative crowd in Orlando. “It’s infused in every aspect of our lives and our society.”

    In a roughly 10-minute speech, Rubio lamented the alleged influence of Marxism and cited cancel culture as proof of its prominence.

    College campuses, he suggested, are ground zero. He lamented censorship and “digital mobs,” saying Marxism is far more than an economic theory.

    “Every single person in this room … you’re one word, you’re one statement, you’re one retweet, you’re one like away from destroying your life,” Rubio said.

    That is not what Marxism is.

    He took issue with citizens needing to produce “papers” to dine out or otherwise participate in society.Such protocols are in effect ahead of the State of the Union Address on March 1.

    “What’s happening now in America is what happens after 20 years of infusing this Marxist thought process into every aspect of our lives,” Rubio said.

    More, though, is at stake than just politics, Rubio argued. He warned Marxists possess an “insatiable appetite” for control and power.

    That’s also not a thing.

    “If this trend continues … we will live to see the day where mainstream Judeo-Christian values, when excerpts out of the Bible, are considered hate speech,” Rubio added.

    Well I think that depends on the excerpt and the context in which it is being used. Given the fact that the Bible has been used to justify pretty much every horrific thing in history, including slavery and Jim Crow, it is certainly possible for it to be used in the context of hate speech. If a member of the KKK gets up and quotes from the Bible to justify his views — which has certainly happened before — it’s probably going to be pretty hateful. Similarly, if people use the Bible to justify discrimination against LGBTQ people, that will also be quite hateful.

    However, if people want to start going around doing unto others as they would have them do unto them, I don’t think anyone would have a problem with that (as long as said people are not masochists).

    It’s usually been easy for conservatives to get what they want by screaming about socialism and Marxism. It energizes their base and scares Democrats out of doing things. But Kirk and Marx are right about one thing — the more horrible capitalism makes our lives, the better socialism looks. Which is probably why people like Rubio are steering clear of talking about how the evils of Marxism and socialism could lead to single payer health care for all, free college, affordable housing, unions, just terminations and childcare and instead claiming it has something to do with why your entire family has blocked you on Facebook and you lost your job for using a racial slur. […]

  271. blf says

    Related to SC@410, in the Grauniad’s current one madman’s war live blog entry on the Swift agreement are these two tidbits (and more):

    “Second, we commit to imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions.”

    The countries also said they would take measures “to limit the sale of citizenship — so called golden passports — that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems”.

    The second sounds like the Cyprus (especially?) scheme will be further constrained (see @205). The first sounds like something like the ideas in Lynna@385 will be followed-up on.

  272. says

    Guardian liveblog:

    The US, Canada and key European countries have agreed to remove “selected Russian banks” from the Swift payment system, the countries announced on Saturday.

    “As Russian forces unleash their assault on Kyiv and other Ukrainian cities, we are resolved to continue imposing costs on Russia that will further isolate Russia from the international financial system and our economies. We will implement these measures within the coming days,” a statement from the leaders of the European Commission, France, Germany, Italy, the UK, Canada, and the US said.

    Swift is the world’s main international payments network. Several countries have already expressed support for locking Russia out of the platform, and Germany, which had previously oppose the measure, leant its support earlier today.

    The joint statement on Saturday made the move official, although few details were given as to when the Swift removal will take place, and which Russian banks will be targeted.

    “We commit to ensuring that selected Russian banks are removed from the SWIFT messaging system. This will ensure that these banks are disconnected from the international financial system and harm their ability to operate globally,” the countries said.

    “Second, we commit to imposing restrictive measures that will prevent the Russian Central Bank from deploying its international reserves in ways that undermine the impact of our sanctions.”

    The countries also said they would take measures “to limit the sale of citizenship – so called golden passports – that let wealthy Russians connected to the Russian government become citizens of our countries and gain access to our financial systems”.

    They also announced plans to launch a “transatlantic task force” which will ensure sanctions on Russians remain effective that will ensure the effective implementation of our financial sanctions by identifying and freezing the assets of sanctioned individuals and companies that exist within our jurisdictions. As a part of this effort we are committed to employing sanctions and other financial and enforcement measures on additional Russian officials and elites close to the Russian government, as well as their families, and their enablers to identify and freeze the assets they hold in our jurisdictions. We will also engage other governments and work to detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains, and to deny these individuals the ability to hide their assets in jurisdictions across the world.

  273. says

    Comment 414:

    We will also engage other governments and work to detect and disrupt the movement of ill-gotten gains, and to deny these individuals the ability to hide their assets in jurisdictions across the world.

    That’s going to take some work. I hope they have a plan, and personnel to execute that plan … not just in the short term, but over time.

    Sounds like an excellent idea to me.

    Russian’s with ill-gotten gains should also not be allowed to park those funds with their children or other relatives living in London etc.

  274. blf says

    A mpre detailed story from Meduza on @313’s press gangs, Stay hidden or get drafted: How the breakaway regions of eastern Ukraine are forcing local men into the military:

    On February 17, the breakaway governments in Ukraine’s Donetsk and Luhansk regions began spreading claims of a massive Ukrainian artillery attack on the territories they control. The leaders of the self-declared Donetsk and Luhansk people’s republics used these claims not only to evacuate women and children into Russia but also to implement a universal conscription policy among men between 18 and 55 for the protection of the Donbas and of all Russian people. On February 23 and 24, the self-proclaimed republics reported a successful military recruitment campaign that allegedly brought in many new volunteer troops. However, local residents told Meduza that soldiers are conducting raids to sweep the streets for potential conscripts.

    The self-proclaimed Donetsk People’s Republic” (DNR) instituted its universal male conscription policy during an emergency meeting on February 19 — even before Russian President Vladimir Putin had announced his recognition of Ukraine’s breakaway governments and initiated a military invasion of the rest of Ukraine. […]

    Soon afterward, the self-proclaimed Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) ordered all its draft-eligible residents to report immediately to mobilization points organized by district-level conscription offices. […]


    Olga is from Luhansk (a number of sources in this story asked to be identified by first name only). She makes a living selling goods at the local market. The city feels empty in recent days, she told Meduza. Most of her customers now are women, and the men going grocery shopping tend to be over 55. Compulsory conscription is underway in Luhansk, Olga explained: soldiers have literally been picking military-aged men off the streets. If someone refuses to come quietly, the standard response is “if you don’t go to war, you’ll go to jail,” she said. Whether or not men have actually been arrested for evading conscription in the breakaway republics is unknown.

    The soldiers put the men they find into buses and take them to recruitment centers. Olga has heard that some of them have been sent from there directly into combat — sometimes without even being issued a uniform.

    Some of Olga’s acquaintances have already been conscripted: some of them got draft notices, while soldiers took others from their homes.

    [… more stories…]

    Denis Pushilin, the head of the self-proclaimed DNR, has required every commercial enterprise in the territory to mobilize half of its military-aged employees. This demand raised concerns among locals that they might be left without essential workers who maintain the area’s roads, heating systems, and other infrastructure. Companies have been working with the separatist government to exempt some of their workers from conscription in hopes of continuing their work.

    One Donetsk resident, an entrepreneur who asked to remain anonymous, told Meduza that these exemptions don’t always help. He himself had only 20 or 30 percent of his workforce left — the rest had been drafted. “A lot of places aren’t paralyzed, but it’s really hard for them to function, especially since people are still being nabbed right off the streets,” he explained.


  275. says

    Just one excerpt from the excellent article to which I linked in comment 419:

    […] Bellingcat reported:

    In another illustrative case from February 20, a pro-Russian militia from Luhansk posted a video to its Telegram channel claiming to show a man in the village of Pryshyb whose leg had to be amputated after shelling by Ukrainian forces.

    This video includes an initial clip of a man on the ground allegedly at the scene of his injury. A man is then shown in hospital where he is said to be recovering after an amputation.

    Although it cannot be established that these two men are the same, the video appears easily disprovable as the man’s prosthesis seems clearly visible in the initial clip (hence his leg had already been amputated).

    In addition to examining metadata, researchers look at the smallest details to see if they add up. For example, on Monday, Russian media said Russian President Vladimir Putin scheduled an emergency Security Council meeting after leaders of two contested regions in Eastern Ukraine requested Russia recognize their independence. Russian TV showed Putin signing an action doing just that. […]

    But debunkers noticed that people in the video were wearing watches. The Security Council meeting reportedly took place at 5 p.m. local time, but the watches all read noon. And watches at the signing ceremony read 10:15 a.m., so either everyone had the wrong time, or the signing took place before the Security Council meeting. In other words, it was all cinema. […]

  276. says

    Masha Gessen: “Russia’s Last Independent TV Channel Covers the Invasion of Ukraine”

    In Moscow, the small staff of TV Rain works through another endless night.

    I got to TV Rain, Russia’s sole remaining independent television operation, just before eleven on Friday night. “It’s quiet now,” a producer, Karina Goltsova, told me. “There were more people before.” TV Rain is generally a skeletal operation, with about two hundred total staff working out of a loft in Moscow with two small studios in two opposite corners. Since Russian troops invaded Ukraine in the wee hours of Thursday morning, it had been all hands on deck, with people working sixteen-hour shifts.

    The lights in the loft were dimmed, as they usually are during a live broadcast, to allow people to move around the space without being picked up by the cameras in a glass-walled studio. Tikhon Dzyadko, TV Rain’s thirty-four-year-old editor-in-chief, was anchoring the broadcast, alternating between trying to sift through newswire headlines and interviewing guests, many of them journalists with other, wealthier media outlets. I would also be doing a turn in the studio. […]

    On the television monitor, Dzyadko was talking to Timur Olevsky, a TV Rain alumnus who left Russia several years ago and was now reporting from Kyiv for the online investigative outlet The Insider. Olevsky was describing seeing a car explode. He said that there had been a lot of blood. Yelena, a slight blond woman of about thirty, held her hand against her chest and struggled to catch her breath. It had been forty-two hours since the big war began; Yelena had worked about thirty-two of those hours. […]

    Dzyadko was bringing his audience up to date on antiwar protests. People in fifty-two cities across Russia had demonstrated against the invasion on Thursday. OVDInfo, an organization that tracks political persecution in the country, was reporting 1,960 people detained; most were facing fines, but several had been sentenced to jail time or were facing criminal prosecution. Authorities have blocked access to the OVDInfo site for Russian Internet users, and have branded the organization itself a “foreign agent.” To avoid a fine, Dzyadko had to mention that OVDInfo had been designated a “foreign agent.” TV Rain itself is also a “foreign agent”; this means that every Webcast, every post, and even every TV Rain-issued press card carries a disclaimer: “The following article and/or post was created and/or disseminated by a foreign media outlet carrying out the functions of a foreign agent and/or a Russian legal entity carrying out the functions of a foreign agent.” [Sheesh!]

    After my quick turn in the studio, I camped out near the control room. […]

    Meanwhile, Dzyadko was speaking to Arkady Ostrovsky, The Economist’s Russia correspondent, who said that between ten thousand and fifteen thousand guns had been distributed in Kyiv the night before. Dzyadko then cut to the White House daily briefing and began simultaneously interpreting the press secretary, Jen Psaki. Once Psaki moved on from Ukraine to other topics, Dzyadko announced a “commercial break.”

    TV Rain was founded, in 2010, by a Moscow power couple: the media entrepreneur Natalya Sindeeva and her banker husband, Alexander Vinokurov. It had a large office in central Moscow; its corporate color was hot pink and its slogan was “Optimistic channel.” Within a couple of years of its founding, TV Rain commanded an audience of millions. But, in 2014, as Russia was about to invade Ukraine for the first time, the Kremlin cracked down on TV Rain: most satellite carriers dropped it, advertisers deserted, and its landlord evicted the channel from its headquarters. For years, TV Rain subsisted on subscriptions and donations. Eventually, it built a large enough YouTube audience to bring in some advertising revenue there.

    Instead of commercials, TV Rain sometimes broadcasts excerpts from its own shows; on this break, they played a ten-minute cut from a Friday broadcast anchored by the longtime TV Rain host Anna Mongayt. After she had finished her endless shift, Mongayt, who grew up in Odessa, wrote on Facebook: “I am numb. Yesterday, I woke up at 9:30 and read that they were bombing the approaches to Odessa, and I went numb. I mean, I am working without stopping, but I am numb, everything in me is frozen. . . . I think that, if I let myself feel, I will be torn apart. I am sitting here watching my world collapse. It took but one day. . . . For the first time in my life, I am facing down actual, pure, unadulterated evil. I can respond only with tears and hatred!”

    Just past midnight, Svetlana Gulyaeva, who worked as a producer at TV Rain for nine years, showed up. She is now a freelance producer […] At the moment, Gulyaeva preferred being at TV Rain to staying at home. “It’s hard, but it feels easier here, calmer,” she said. She didn’t seem calm. She was in and out of the control room, pacing, as was her husband, the TV Rain correspondent Vasily Polonsky.

    Back in the studio, Dzyadko was scrolling the headlines. tass, a Russian government news agency, was reporting that the Russian military had taken the city of Melitopol, in southeastern Ukraine. (A later set of headlines disputed this—the city had been surrounded, not surrendered.) The Ukrainian President, Volodymyr Zelensky, was denying Kremlin claims that Ukraine was refusing to negotiate. […] Dzyadko was rambling a bit, buying time as he waited for the U.S. Under-Secretary of State, Victoria Nuland, who had agreed to an on-air interview at midnight but was running late.

    At twelve-twenty-six, Nuland finally appeared. Zelensky had talked to President Biden on Friday, and Dzyadko asked Nuland if this could change anything. “The only person who can change anything is Vladimir Putin,” Nuland said. Everyone who was in the loft—about a dozen and a half people—had crowded into the control room to listen to Nuland. She expressed sympathy for Russian soldiers who are being sent to die in a senseless war. Then she addressed Russians who had come out to protest the war. “We support you,” she said.

    […] Back in 2014, during protests in Ukraine, when Nuland was the Assistant Secretary of State, a recording of her conversation with then U.S. Ambassador in Kyiv was leaked. The conversation, in which Nuland expresses strong opinions about Ukrainian politics and politicians, has been used by the Kremlin as proof that the government in Kyiv is a U.S. puppet.

    Dzyadko’s next guest was Pavel Latushka, a Belarusian opposition politician living in exile in Poland. Latushka talked about the fate of tens of thousands of Belarusian refugees who were living in Ukraine following the crackdown on protests in Belarus, in 2020. Now they found themselves running from the Russian military, much of it coming through Belarus, where the dictator Alexander Lukashenka had welcomed it. Many of these double-refugees were now ending up in camps in Poland, Latushka said. [Double refugees!? I didn’t know that.]

    Now TV Rain had tape of an address by Zelensky. It would almost certainly be the only Russian media outlet to show the speech. It was a few minutes past one in the morning, and TV Rain’s YouTube stream had about twenty-three thousand viewers. […]

    Around ten past one, TV Rain cut away to the meeting of the United Nations Security Council, and Dzyadko got his second break of the night. Yelena walked into the studio with a brush and did some quick work on the bags under Dzyadko’s eyes. […]

    In 2016, Polonsky reported on the fighting in eastern Ukraine. He and another TV Rain reporter, Sergey Yerzhenkov, were captured by Russian-backed forces and held for a couple of days before being deported to Russia. Polonsky wanted to go to Ukraine to report this time around, too, but hasn’t been able to arrange it. Instead, he and several other reporters have been combing hundreds of Ukrainian Telegram channels for video and still images that TV Rain can fact-check and show.

    Around one-thirty, Dzyadko brought in Artur Gasparyan, a prominent music journalist, to talk about the Eurovision Song Contest organizers’ decision to ban Russian participation in the competition in May. […]

    TV Rain was now broadcasting the Russian Ambassador Vassily Nebenzia’s speech at the U.N. Security Council. Russia had already vetoed a proposed resolution condemning its aggression, and now Nebenzia was enumerating a familiar list of Russian grievances, most of them unsubstantiated. (I will not amplify them here.) He referred to Ukrainians as “Ukronazis.” […]

    Ukraine’s representative, Sergiy Kyslytsya, spoke next. At times, he seemed on the verge of tears. TV Rain had planned to stop broadcasting at two in the morning, but, by the time the Security Council meeting ended, it was almost three in Moscow. Dzyadko was clearly hesitant to sign off. He showed two videos Polonsky had cut together. In one, people in a bomb shelter in the city of Cherkasy were singing the Ukrainian national anthem, “Ukraine Is Not Yet Dead.” In the other, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson finished a speech by addressing Russians in (impressively competent-sounding) Russian, and Ukrainians in Ukrainian. To the former, he said, “I do not believe that this war is being waged in your name.” To the latter, he said, “Glory to Ukraine.”

    […] “Let’s hope that this night brings no more terrible news,” Dzyadko finally said. “Let’s hope that tomorrow brings better news, perhaps of negotiations.” He signed off at three-twenty-six.

    Lights came on in the loft. Producers and reporters crowded into the studio. Dzyadko loosened his skinny tie and untucked his shirt. Everyone reiterated that they were keeping their phones on. If a storming of Kyiv began, they’d restart. It was only five and a half hours until their next scheduled broadcast, they reassured one another. It had been forty-six hours since the invasion began.

    New Yorker link

  277. says

    New York Times:

    Through intense fighting in the streets of Kyiv and other cities, Ukraine’s defense forces and civilian volunteers resisted Russia’s invasion for a third day, battling for control of the capital as international pressure mounted on Moscow and support for Kyiv’s besieged government grew.

    […] Russian forces bombarded Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, again on Saturday night, after a day of pitched fights around the city. Most of the more than 150,000 Russian troops who had massed around Ukraine are now fighting in the country, U.S. officials said. […]

  278. blf says

    Follow-up to me@408, I just replaced the standby rechargeable battery in mouse with a freshly-recharged battery, accompanied by a lot of enthusiastic squeaking. Well, not quite, initially, at least, the mouse wasn’t too keen on having the battery pulled out, and then was remarkably silent when the fully-charged one was inserted. No squeaks, no LED blinks, no, well, nothing… Eh? Ah! The battery was put in the wrong way around — boring! — removing and inserting it (other way around), fully charged, got enthusiastic squeaks and LED blinks…

  279. says

    !!! Guardian liveblog:

    Snake Island defenders may still be alive, Ukraine’s State Border Guard says

    The Ukrainian soldiers who defended an island in the Black Sea from an air and sea bombardment – reportedly telling an officer on board a Russian navy warship to “go f*** yourself” when asked to surrender, are believed to still be alive according to Ukrainian officials.

    There were 13 border guards stationed on Snake Island, a roughly 16-hectare (40-acre) rocky island owned by Ukraine that sits about 186 miles (300km) west of Crimea, when Russian troops bombed the island on Thursday.

    All 13 soldiers were believed to have died after refusing to surrender, Ukrainian officials announced.

    However, in a recent statement, the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine said:

    We [have a] strong belief that all Ukrainian defenders of Zmiinyi (Snake) Island may be alive.

    After receiving information about their possible location, the DPSU together with the Armed Forces of Ukraine are conducting work on identifying our soldiers.”

  280. blf says

    SC@431, Is that link correct? Without digging too deeply, I don’t see anything about “why is Pompeo using a scooter(? walker?)”?

  281. blf says

    Whilst presumably (and hopefully!) not needed by most readers here, Meduza’s brief guide to accessing online resources blocked by the Russian authorities.

    I myself have been using a VPN, which — last I checked — had functional servers in both Ukraine and Russia (but has none in Belarus (which I’ve seen some people recommend as a work-around)). To-date, I haven’t tried using the Russian servers to see what is being blocked: There are reports some Russian sites are now returning 418 error codes to sites geolocated outside of Russia. Technically, 418 means (broadly) “service not available your area” but (I omit the details) also means “not a teapot” — my own few attempts to see what Russian sites have been returning resulted in silence, connection refusals, seemingly-Ok, or erratic behaviour.

  282. blf says

    SC@434 & @435, I simply cannot find anything about “Pompeo” (much less “using a scooter”) at the @431 link from Noah Shachtman, which starts with “I said, ‘This is genius.’ Putin declares a big portion of the Ukraine — of Ukraine. Putin declares it as independent. Oh, that’s wonderful. So, Putin is now saying, ‘It’s independent,’ a large section of Ukraine. I said, ‘How smart is that?’” (obviously quoting hair furor quoting himself).

    Sorry, this is perhaps a minor point! An (admittedly trivial) search for Pompeo scooter (and a few variants) found nothing obviously relevant.