A Sharp Knife of Hatred

I’m a bit suspicious about the flood of “brave Ukrainian resistance” stories. Some of them are already revealed to be false, e.g.: “The Ghost of Kyiv” was a well-executed 3d rendering. The Russians are taking casualties but they’re par for the course and they won’t be minding them, although the NATO alliance has admitted that they are flooding the country with newer, better anti-tank missiles and related gear.

War is always ugly, and there’s a break-point where both sides flip away from thinking of it as an exercise in politics, and it turns into a matter of expressing how much you hate the other side. There’s a time when the humor goes and it’s slaughter and war crimes.

This morning I woke up to this one: [guard]

A woman is being hailed on social media after she confronted a heavily armed Russian soldier and offered him sunflower seeds – so that flowers would grow if he died there on Ukraine’s soil. ‘You’re occupants, you’re fascists,’ she shouts, standing about a metre from the soldier.

‘Take these seeds and put them in your pockets so at least sunflowers will grow when you all lie down here’

That’s some brilliant, pure, burning hatred right there. You’ve got to admire it. In another couple weeks, if the war has not wound down, that sort of thing would get her killed. Both sides haven’t worked up a good head of hatred, yet.

There is also the tale of the soldiers on Snake Island, 13 in number, who apparently told a Russian destroyer that demanded their surrender to “Fuck off.” Early reports were that they were killed but now apparently all 13 are alive to some degree or another. Snake Island is a worthless piece of rock and its ownership will be settled after the war is over; there was no need for anyone to get hurt over it.

Two other tales from the invasion: a Ukrainian man tried to stand in front of some Russian armored vehicles, which went around him. I think that was a courteous and sensible decision by the Russian vehicle commanders, who had the entire situation in their laps. Another Ukrainian man supposedly walked up to some Russians who had a broken-down AFV, and offered to tow them back to Russia. For now, it’s still possible for parties on both sides of the conflict to make jokes like that; civilization has not yet completely crumbled.


  1. JM says

    Even for a war there is a lot of garbage misinformation floating around. The trolls are grabbing bits from video games, old wars, movies, air shows and whatever else and throwing it onto social media. I suppose the only advantage is that the quality of information is so low that nobody is taking it seriously so the value of actual propaganda is reduced.

  2. says

    I think Putin is still trying to frame this as a peacekeeping liberation. Blowing up grandmas looks bad, so that’s keeping them in check, for now.
    Of course, when you get enough molotovs thrown at you, at some point you lose your temper and people who are being invaded can’t be expected to not throw molotovs at you, so yeah. It’s probably going to get ugly. War usually does.

  3. says

    Yeah there is a stage where people haven’t learned to hate yet and can be a bit courteous. That’s fairly short. And when the US goes to war it cuts straight to the “we wipe out your home and family” stage so everyone hates us real quick.

    Putin is framing this as peacekeeping and I think he’s going to grab a bunch of territory and then negotiate from a position of strength having shown he’s serious about all the things.

    In my ideal world everyone would work together to dial this back, then in 5 years someone would feed the sonofabitch some Novichok and then everyone could shrug “gosh that’s one of yours right?” Hey its tradition – Stalin had an unusual amount of rat poison (warfarin) in him when he died. The usual amount is well… they weren’t using it on him as a blood clot therapy at that time, so lets say zero.

  4. says

    If you want to watch something truly epic watch the Moscow stock exchange when it opens Monday, if Putin doesn’t close it first. Because it’s gonna go into the ground like one of those bunker penetrators.

  5. crivitz says

    Not the AN-225! Oh the humanity! Anyway, I am reminded of a magazine article I read during the lead-up to the Falklands war that told of the unreal feeling of being in an actual war and how unprepared people were when it turned deadly as Exocet missiles flew at them (this from a UK perspective and due to the long travel time to get the convoy all the way to the South Atlantic there was plenty of time for speculative stories before they got there).

    Also this sentiment from September 1939:

  6. says

    Incidentally, I can’t seem to connect to the Moscow stock exchange page; moex.com. There has been talk of Anonymous getting involved and attacking Russian servers. I wondered to myself if maybe somebody figures this is a nice time to try out some shit they have in the drawer. War is a perfect opportunity for practical weapons testing, after all.

    I feel like the main takeaway is that the status quo is shifting. Nobody is quite sure where this is going to land, so everyone’s a bit nervous. It will likely end with some kind of stalemate/truce that everyone can sorta live with. Hopefully, Putin will be happy with Black Sea access and the North-Western half of Ukraine will survive as a state. Then some kind of reunification can occur a few decades down the line. I wonder if they’ll build a wall across the country. It would be on-brand.

    I feel like Putin has missed his window for a glorious victory, though. Now he’s down to a choice between striking a bargain where he gets what he’s already got, or he keeps pushing and settles in for a long, bloody PR nightmare.

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