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2022-2024 Russo-Ukrainian War

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  • #91
    I've been thinking a bit about this as it really isn't just about Russia for the U.S. There is an overarching security structure that probably forces the West's hand to act. The Baltics & NATO security being one, but it's not the worlds 11th largest economy you're overly concerned about, it's the world's No. 2 economy doing the same.

    Russia probably needs to be made an example out of for a prolonged period of time because much nastier things lie in wait otherwise. Better the world's 11th be this example than no 1 & 2 going head to head.

    I'm not sure Europe has reached the maturity to realise that the U.S. sees itself as no.1 and if it feels the above is in the equation then the U.S will place its POST Russia/Ukraine scenario firmly to the forefront?
    Biden should be calling Macron, reminiding him of Mers El Kebir & Eisenhower/Suez.

    I fear where the trip wire is not where we think it is. I fear that perhaps Putin actually thinks he's smart after 2014, but he's already enacted a chain of events, in nobodies interest. That we talk as if conflict in Ukraine is all we're facing.

    Anyway, just musings - I don't mean pulling gun triggers I mean the complete and utter financial collapse of Russia. By necessary sacrifice. Damn I hate my thought.
    Ego Numquam


    • #92
      Well, shit.

      WASHINGTON/MOSCOW, Jan 28 (Reuters) - A Russian troop buildup along its border with Ukraine includes supplies of blood for the wounded, three U.S. officials told Reuters, a detail reinforcing U.S. comments that Russia "clearly" now has the capability to move on its neighbour.

      The disclosure by the officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, adds to growing U.S. concern that Russia could be preparing for a new invasion of Ukraine as it has amassed more than 100,000 troops near its borders.

      Putin offered his first reaction to the U.S. and NATO responses to Russia's demands in a phone call with French President Emmanuel Macron after weeks of personal public silence.

      The Kremlin quoted Putin as telling Macron he would study the responses provided by Washington and NATO this week before deciding on further action.

      Current and former U.S. officials said indicators like the blood supplies were critical in determining whether Moscow would be prepared to carry out an invasion, if Putin decided to do so.

      A French presidency official said Putin, in his call with Macron, had underlined that he did not want the situation to intensify, echoing conciliatory comments by Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, who said Moscow did not want war.

      "Attention was drawn to the fact that the U.S. and NATO replies did not take into account Russia's principal concerns," the Kremlin said of Putin's conversation with Macron.

      It listed those concerns as avoiding NATO expansion, not deploying offensive weapons near Russia's borders and returning NATO "military capabilities and infrastructure" to how they were before former Warsaw Pact states in eastern Europe joined.

      "The key question was ignored - how the United States and its allies intend to follow the principle of security integrity ... that no one should strengthen their security at the expense of another country's security," it said.

      The United States and NATO have said some of Russia's demands are non-starters but have also left the door open to dialogue.

      NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said the Western military alliance was watching closely as Russia moves troops and arms into Belarus for drills.

      He said NATO was ready to increase its troop presence in eastern Europe if Russia took further aggressive actions against Ukraine, and cautioned that a Russian attack could take many forms including a cyber attack, attempted coup or sabotage.

      U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said the United States remained focused on countering Russian disinformation, including anything that could be used as a pretext for attacks on Ukraine.

      "While we don't believe that President Putin has made a final decision to use these forces against Ukraine, he clearly now has that capability," Austin told reporters.
      "Draft beer, not people."


      • #93
        Originally posted by Red Team View Post
        Well, shit.
        Yeah...not good.

        And I want to be clear on something here...I believe we should move heaven and earth to do all we can to help Ukraine and stop the Russians.

        But I want no US units involved in any combat over this.

        There is nor Treaty agreement with Ukraine.

        I believe in backing NATO with all we've got but...

        Ukraine is not worth any American blood and treasure.

        “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
        Mark Twain


        • #94
          Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post

          Yeah...not good.

          And I want to be clear on something here...I believe we should move heaven and earth to do all we can to help Ukraine and stop the Russians.

          But I want no US units involved in any combat over this.

          There is nor Treaty agreement with Ukraine.

          I believe in backing NATO with all we've got but...

          Ukraine is not worth any American blood and treasure.
          I feel exactly the same way.
          “He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.”


          • #95
            Can't help those who won't help themselves. Kiev had over a year to get ready. At least move the goddamned HQs into the field.


            • #96
              What the Ukraine Crisis Looks Like from Beijing
              A Russian escalation in Ukraine could complicate the Chinese Communist Party's plans.

              The unfolding crisis in Ukraine is being watched closely not just by Moscow, Washington, Kyiv, and Brussels, but also by Beijing. The Chinese Communist Party’s interests in the crisis are complicated and often contradictory, but it likely believes that the situation presents more risks than opportunities. The potential pitfalls are numerous: Economic disruptions from the crisis could pose dangers for China’s domestic economy, and therefore its politics, while a poorly timed offensive could distract from its Olympic plans as the Russo-Georgian War did during the 2008 Beijing Olympics—all while pushing the world further into rival blocs.

              So far, the CCP has generally attempted to disassociate itself from the crisis, at least publicly, and has adopted a cautious, calculated approach. The People’s Daily, the authoritative mouthpiece of the CCP, stopped updating its Russia-affairs section in early November, likely to maintain strict message discipline. Other Chinese state media and, more importantly, the Chinese foreign ministry have generally refrained from commenting on the crisis or have largely stuck with matter-of-fact reporting.

              The relatively quiet response from the CCP does not mean the party has failed to indicate its preferences. The CCP strongly desires that Putin delay any escalation at least until after the Olympic opening ceremony and the Xi-Putin bilateral summit conclude around February 4, and potentially until after the Olympics conclude on February 20. (Then again, if Putin escalates during the Olympics, it might deflect attention from Beijing’s ongoing cultural genocide in Xinjiang, censorship of athletes, ubiquitous electronic surveillance, etc.) Xi and Putin are expected to issue a major announcement at their in-person bilateral summit, but an escalation before the meeting could make Putin too toxic a figure and lead to the meeting’s cancellation.

              Even as the CCP has likely discouraged Putin from intervening at an inopportune moment, the party has also signaled its broad support for Putin and opposition to constitutional democracy. The People’s Daily published an article series in November that attempted to discredit the U.S. intelligence community just as the United States was sounding the alarm about Russia’s military buildup along the Ukrainian border. Chinese state media have also criticized claims of a “so-called ‘Russian invasion of Ukraine,’” echoing the Kremlin’s false claim that Russian forces are not and have never been deployed in the Donbas. The Chinese foreign ministry has thrown its weight behind Moscow, saying “Russia’s legitimate security concerns should be taken seriously and addressed.” So far China has largely “leaned to one side” and supported Putin’s position, and it will likely maintain this posture.

              Although Taiwan is not Ukraine and their contexts are completely different, the CCP and the People’s Liberation Army will nevertheless watch how the United States and its allies respond to Russian aggression against Ukraine for any lessons vis-à-vis Taiwan. While there’s debate about whether the sanctions regime NATO is threatening against Russia is sufficient to deter it, there’s not really a comparable debate about China: It’s so large a player in the global economy that it would be much less vulnerable to such threats. But the military and political actions of NATO, both in support of Ukraine and in strengthening NATO’s eastern member states, may be instructive to Beijing.

              Beijing’s muted opposition to an invasion is not grounded in any concern about the potentially catastrophic human costs of warfare in Ukraine. Rather, Beijing fears that its economic, geopolitical, and, most importantly, domestic political interests may be harmed by large-scale war in Europe. In a worst-case scenario for Xi, the knock-on effects would severely complicate his plans for the Party Congress in late 2022, when he will almost surely seek to become party-secretary-for-life.

              The most likely outcome for China from an escalation in Ukraine is economic pain. Violence in Europe would send commodity prices higher, increase China’s energy import bill, and pose sanctions risks for Chinese corporations. China is already struggling with its own slow-moving real estate debt crisis and Omicron-related shutdowns, so any more economic turmoil would be extremely unwelcome.

              A new offensive in Ukraine would also likely exacerbate geopolitical divides, forcing the CCP into an uncomfortable choice between its preferred security companion—Putin’s Russia—and its trade and investment partners in the United States and Europe. As American diplomats call on China to help resolve the crisis, the CCP’s passivity in the face of mass bloodshed could lead to guilt by association. It is entirely conceivable, perhaps even likely, that the free world will be more unified at the end the crisis than before it began, causing countries across Europe to reevaluate their relationship with China.

              At the same time, the CCP could see an escalation in Ukraine as an opportunity to secure some benefits from Russia. Putin’s alienation from the West will leave him even more dependent on China for export markets, security, foreign investment, and political support, thus enabling Beijing to extract greater economic, political, and security concessions from Moscow. The CCP would likely find it much easier to secure bargain prices on Russian commodity exports and the Power of Siberia 2, a proposed Russia-to-China natural gas pipeline. Russia’s growing isolation from the West and dependency on China may also ultimately weaken Mongolian sovereignty, enabling Beijing to exploit that country’s renewable energy potential or even annex regions of the surrounded democracy with Moscow’s tacit approval. Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Moscow’s growing dependence on Beijing would likely lead to greater military coordination in the Indo-Pacific. Russian and Chinese air and naval assets may integrate to unprecedented levels, while Moscow could be forced to restrict or even cease military cooperation with India, Vietnam, and other Chinese rivals.

              With the Olympics and the Xi-Putin summit fast approaching, the most important factors influencing China’s response will be the scale and timing of Russia’s offensive. It is important to stress that the situation remains uncertain. No one actually knows what Putin will do, the dictator may not have decided himself, and de-escalation remains possible, albeit unlikely.

              An escalation in the next few days—that is, before the Olympics—would be a highly risky course of action for Putin, but each additional week of delay also presents risks as more arms and aid shipments arrive in Ukraine and NATO and the EU plan their coordinated responses. If Putin escalates before the opening ceremony, all bets about China’s response are off. Xi could cancel his planned bilateral meeting with Putin, or, more likely, the Russian autocrat would cancel the summit, citing his need to remain home and manage the crisis. This path would almost surely lead the two sides to delay any announcement regarding the Power of Siberia 2 natural gas pipeline and would have unpredictable consequences for Sino-Russian relations.

              Other issues would arise in the weeks and months following a significant escalation. Beijing largely complied with sanctions put in place after Putin’s illegal annexation of Crimea and invasion of the Donbas in 2014. It seems highly unlikely that China would join a new round of sanctions, but the conduct of the war could change the circumstances. There were approximately 30,000 Chinese nationals in Ukraine in 2017, and the indiscriminate bombing of Kyiv or other Ukrainian cities will likely lead to Chinese casualties, which might force a response from Beijing.

              The Chinese Communist Party will cautiously attempt to walk a tightrope in the crisis, aiming to preserve its economic ties with the West while capitalizing on Russia’s growing dependency. By aligning itself with Russia, the CCP gains a valuable economic and security partner, but also a potentially destabilizing liability.
              “He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.”


              • #97
                A 2 part report from Ukraine and life in the area under Russian control in Donbas.

                Part 1


                A bridge separates 2 realities at the frontier of Russian-occupied Ukraine

                Russia is threatening to invade Ukraine. But in the eastern region of Donbas, war has been underway since Russia-backed separatists moved in and declared breakaway republics in 2014.

                MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

                And I'm Mary Louise Kelly in Kyiv, Ukraine, where we keep hearing this number - 100,000; as in 100,000 Russian troops massed on the border at least, and more are still coming. The bulk of those troops are to the east, the far east of Ukraine, hard up against the Russian border, which is also where we're headed. To get there, we summon a taxi, glide through dark streets to Kyiv Central Station and hop a train.

                We are going to a part of Ukraine where war is already underway - has been for years. Russia-backed separatists have been fighting Ukraine's forces in the eastern region of Donbas since 2014. So we decided to go see it, and we are taking time on the show today to bring you with us on the journey, to meet and hear the stories of ordinary people in Donbas whose lives have already been turned upside down by war with Russia and who now face the prospect of being caught in the middle of what the White House is warning could be the largest invasion since World War II.

                Going to be about a six-hour train ride, watching vast grain fields roll past and covered in snow this time of year.

                First stop, Slovyansk.

                UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: (Non-English language spoken).

                KELLY: Slovyansk is a small city. Its residents have lived through a lot these last eight years. Back in 2014, those Russian-backed separatists seized Slovyansk. It was the first city they took. They held it three months. Then the Ukrainian army fought and took it back. Walk around the town today and you will see a building just destroyed by shelling, by mortar fire, but you will also stumble across scenes of joy.


                KELLY: Over my shoulder I'm watching kids sledding and playing on a giant snowbank. We are in the central square of Slovyansk. There's a big banner. It says glory to Ukraine, glory to heroes.

                I walk over to a couple watching their 4-year-old daughter in a pink snow suit squeal her way down the snow mound.

                VITA MILKO: (Speaking Russian).

                ZHENIA: (Speaking Russian).

                KELLY: Hear that? Russian. That's our interpreter, Zhenia. He is Ukrainian, from this part of Ukraine. But like many people here, Russian is his first language. He's told me he instinctively switches when he gets close to home.

                ZHENIA: (Speaking Russian).

                KELLY: What'd she say?

                ZHENIA: She says, I am...

                KELLY: The mom answers in Russian. Her name is Vita Milko. She's 41. She remembers driving through this city in 2014 as bodies lay in the street.

                We ask, what if Ukraine hadn't fought, hadn't taken the city back? She glances at her 4-year-old daughter as her husband bends down to adjust her mittens.

                MILKO: (Through interpreter) I'm trying not to think about that. I'm very happy that this region was freed, that they said it was freed, and I would like all other cities to be free as well.

                KELLY: Those other cities Vita is talking about lie even farther east. The Kyiv government calls them temporarily occupied territories. But temporarily - that's doing a lot of work there. The territories were seized in 2014. The Ukraine army never won them back. And Russia has never formally annexed them, either, leaving the people who live there in limbo - cut off from Ukraine, cut off from Russia, cut off from the world.

                To get there, or as close as we can get, we hire a driver to take us another three hours farther east to Stanytsia Luhanska. I'll fill in a few details as we go because we have five checkpoints to get through first.

                ZHENIA: First is that.

                KELLY: The checkpoints are roadblocks, concrete barriers that grow more frequent the farther east you go. They're manned by a combination of police, Ukrainian National Guard and JFO. That's Joint Forces Operation, the Ukrainian military outfit that oversees the front. And I say the front because the active fighting that began eight years ago in Donbas has never stopped.

                Passing bus stops painted blue and yellow, blue and yellow stripes painted around the lampposts here, as blue and yellow is the colors of the Ukrainian flag. And a clear message painted after 2014 - this is Ukraine. This is not Russia.

                We pass the second checkpoint no problem - tense moment at the third.

                UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: (Non-English language spoken).

                KELLY: Three heavily armed guards - ahead of us, a van has been made to pull over, passengers made to get out, line up for document inspection. We hold up every press pass, every American passport in the van.

                UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: (Non-English language spoken).

                KELLY: Checkpoint 4 down - last one.

                Easiest one yet. We're through.

                At last, we pull into a slushy parking lot in Stanytsia Luhanska. Buses idle, Ukrainian flags fly in odd juxtaposition to the red Soviet star prominent on the traffic circle alongside. This here is the only crossing right now between the rest of Ukraine and the northernmost occupied territory. It's not a national border. It's a pedestrian bridge. No cars - high over the Siverskyi Donets river. People are wheeling suitcases, pushing old people in wheelchairs, pushing babies in strollers.

                NATALIA: My name is Natalia.

                KELLY: Natalia, hi. This is your baby?

                NATALIA: Yes.

                KELLY: Natalia has just crossed the bridge back to this side, the side where the Kyiv government holds sway. We agreed to use Natalia's first name only - same for almost everyone we interviewed - because of fears about speaking freely.

                And where were you coming from?

                NATALIA: (Through interpreter) From Lugansk.

                KELLY: Natalia was visiting her mom, who lives in Luhansk, the biggest city in the northernmost part of the occupied territories. What's it like there, with so much talk these days of yet more war?

                NATALIA: (Through interpreter) Yeah, people are scared, but nothing changed. You can still see the products on the shelves in the shops.

                KELLY: Oh, that's good. So electricity is fine?

                NATALIA: Yes. Yes.

                KELLY: There are things to eat. Do you want Luhansk to be Ukraine or to go to Russia?

                NATALIA: (Through interpreter) The main thing is no war.

                KELLY: You almost don't even care as long as it's peace.

                NATALIA: Yes. Yes.

                KELLY: I understand. Yeah.

                NATALIA: Maybe Russia.

                KELLY: Why?

                NATALIA: (Through interpreter) It's more stable country.

                KELLY: She just wants peace, but she also thinks Russia is a more stable country. I'm about to ask her more about this when the man she is traveling with appears, shoots me a dirty look.

                UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Sorry. Bye-bye. Bye-bye.

                KELLY: OK.

                He tugs her away. He tells us things would be calmer if we weren't here. It's not clear if he means Americans or journalists or both. A lot of people here decline to talk. Most are not rude. They just walk past - no eye contact. Then I spot an older woman in a fur hat. She won't talk on tape, but she'll talk.

                She doesn't want to speak on tape because she's scared. But she says she's crossed just for today 'cause she wants to get a COVID vaccine. She's crossed over from the occupied territories. You can get them there, but only Russian ones, Sputnik ones. She thinks they're not as good. They won't help her, and they have Pfizer right here.

                She's saying, I'm so tired of this war. And then she said, please help us. Please - your president, your American president. We need help. We're so tired. This war is dividing us. And then she said, thank you, and she started to cry.

                A little while later, after we've stopped to buy bars of dark Ukrainian chocolate and tea to warm up, we meet Valerie - 37 years old, long fur coat, also clutching a cup of hot tea. Valerie is happy to speak with us. She's an English teacher on her way back home inside the occupied territories.

                VALERIE: I just arrived from Kyiv. It was a long trip, and I'm a little bit cold.

                KELLY: Ah, I'm sorry. I understand. Here, have your tea.

                VALERIE: Just a cup of tea, and I'm OK.

                KELLY: May we speak to you for a moment while you have your tea?

                VALERIE: That's my mom. She lives in Luhansk.

                KELLY: Hi, mom. Nice to meet you.

                VALERIE: Where are you from?

                KELLY: Her mom, Olga, is breaking up a biscuit from her pocket to feed to stray puppies wandering by.

                VALERIE: I would like to take them home, but it's impossible.

                KELLY: Valerie does not hold back. She makes clear she does not like Russia. She says people should go home where they came from. And she makes clear she and I are having a very different conversation on this side of the crossing than we would have on the other.

                VALERIE: You're asking now questions which I am able to answer now. On that part, I would think twice. Will I answer your questions, or will I say that I am sorry, I am busy and I have to go?

                KELLY: You're waving - you're waving your tea toward the crossing...

                VALERIE: Yes. Yes.

                KELLY: ...And saying once you cross that bridge, you cannot speak so freely.

                OLGA: You cannot speak at all.

                KELLY: Valerie says she supports Ukraine. She thinks most people in the occupied territories do, even if they can't say so. But not everyone can just leave.

                And why do you stay? You could go to Kyiv.

                VALERIE: We have older relatives of older age who need our care. We can't move and leave them there because this is a family situation. So maybe we can move, but what to do with those who stay?

                KELLY: She speaks of how little hope there is for the future. She speaks of how little anyone here wants more war.

                Let me introduce you to one last person - our driver, Sasha. He's watching as we talk to people, smoking cigarettes, visiting with other drivers in the parking lot. Now, we do not normally interview anyone we're working with, but it occurs to me that, like our interpreter, this story we're here to report, this is Sasha's story, too.

                He has picked up people from this crossing often, many who were fleeing for good, including him. He's made this crossing. He is now internally displaced. Sasha moved his family in 2015 from the separatist territories to a town a couple of hours farther from the border. He talks of friends who've done the same, who have left. Why? I ask.


                SASHA: (Through interpreter) You need to live there to understand because it's very hard. You start value freedom when you do not have it, when you lose it.

                KELLY: What we find when Sasha drives us just a few blocks from the border crossing - that's up next on ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News.

                “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                Mark Twain


                • #98
                  A 2 part report from Ukraine and life in the area under Russian control in Donbas.

                  Part 2


                  The world worries of a Russian incursion. In Donbas, Ukrainians already live with war

                  NPR's Mary Louise Kelly reports from Donbas region of Ukraine as its residents live under the threat of a Russian incursion and cope with eight years of tensions and fighting along the border.

                  MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

                  We're continuing our journey to a different part of this vast country. We've come to hear from ordinary people. And to get here, we have traveled nine or 10 hours - first by train, then by car - deep into Ukraine's eastern region of Donbas, where people look at you a little funny if you ask whether they're worried about war with Russia because they are already living it, have been living it since 2014, when Russia-backed separatists moved in and declared breakaway republics. They have been fighting ever since.

                  Our trip took us as close as we could get to the front line, the village of Stanytsia Luhanska. This is the crossing between those breakaway republics and the rest of Ukraine. It's calm when we visit - uneasy calm, but a few shops are open, a COVID testing site. You don't have to look hard, though, to see what war with Russia has done to this place.

                  (SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

                  KELLY: Here's what you see as you walk - a police station crumpled, a school shelled, the playground outside untouched but rusting. We're told stay on hard pavement. Don't step off. There are still active landmines.

                  (SOUNDBITE OF FOOTSTEPS)

                  KELLY: We get to this residential street - or what is left of a residential street. It's house after house after house with the roof blown in, the windows blown out, bullet and mortar holes pocking the walls. We see a few people. They kind of scurry away when we come up. There's just a few houses that have been redone.

                  And then people clearly trying to live in houses have managed to brick up or just put what looks like plastic over windows. And it is cold, and they're living here. You can see the damage from the fighting, the devastation that is still here, still very present in life here. And there is still life here.


                  KELLY: As we walk, we notice an older man peeking out, maybe curious about the strangers on his street. We flag him down.

                  DAVYDOVYCH: Hello.

                  UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: Hello.

                  KELLY: Hi. Is this your house?

                  There are no holes, no broken glass, fresh peach paint, plants in the windows. This is Davydovych. That's his middle name. He does not want his real name on tape. He's worried he'll be recognized, worried about repercussions.

                  DAVYDOVYCH: (Speaking Russian).

                  KELLY: He tells us only three people live on the street now. And it is a long street. He's 66, though, like a lot of people here, he looks older by a decade. Davydovych has lived in this town his whole life, in this house since the 1980s. He says life here used to be good, but now he navigates his neighborhood by remembering where people he knew were killed.

                  DAVYDOVYCH: (Through interpreter) On that street, the man died there. The woman died there.

                  KELLY: I ask him who he blames for the fighting, for life being turned upside down, and he quotes a Ukrainian proverb back to me.

                  DAVYDOVYCH: (Speaking Russian).

                  KELLY: It means, roughly, when the leaders are fighting, the people will suffer.

                  What will you do if more fighting comes?

                  DAVYDOVYCH: (Through interpreter) I don't know. I'm just fed up with it.

                  KELLY: I'm broken inside, he says, and his eyes are filling up with tears. Davydovych tells us, just this morning, he heard shooting nearby. He doesn't know from which direction or who was doing the shooting. He sighs in a way that suggests he's given up trying to keep track. And he talks with us for a long time, like a man who had forgotten what it's like to have people around to listen.

                  When we finally climb back in the car, the sun is on its way to setting. We need to head back west to the station to catch an overnight sleeper train to Kyiv. It's the same drill on the way out as on the way in - checkpoints. They go smoothly.

                  Between the fourth and the fifth, we arrive in one last city, Severodonetsk. This is where Sasha, our driver, lives with his wife, their kids. Remember; he's the one who told us you start to value freedom when you do not have it, when you lose it. They fled here from those occupied territories back closer to the Russian border. His mom is still there, and he's worried for her safety. So we've agreed to use his first name only.

                  UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: And then we're going to eat here.

                  KELLY: Perfect. And this is Sasha's town.

                  It's dinnertime, so Sasha volunteers to take us to a popular spot, a local brewery with club music thumping.

                  (SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)

                  KELLY: We stuff ourselves on Georgian khachapuri bread - fat with cheese and egg and potato - dumplings, borscht spiked with sour cream and sharp green onions. Over coffee - our train leaves late; for once, we're not in a hurry - I ask Sasha for his story. Now, again, we are paying him to drive us. We would not normally interview him. But he has been shuttling us around all day, and he is actually living the story we're here trying to report.

                  We discover we were both born in Germany because both our dads were in the military, on different sides during the Cold War. He was born in Potsdam in what was East Germany, where the Soviet Army was stationed. I was born in the west, in Augsburg, in a U.S. Army field hospital.

                  I mean, you're young. How old are you?

                  SASHA: (Through interpreter) Forty-one.

                  KELLY: Forty-one. If Russia attacks again, will you try to get your family somewhere safe? Would you stay and fight for your country? What do you think?

                  SASHA: (Through interpreter) Yeah, I'm going to take my family and leave.

                  KELLY: He will take his family and leave again. I ask about his new life here.

                  Are you happy here now? Will you stay?

                  SASHA: (Through interpreter) I feel safe. I feel free. I can go whenever I want and - but you still need to think about financial stuff.

                  KELLY: Money and work is difficult.

                  SASHA: (Through interpreter) I'm constantly looking for work, for opportunities.

                  KELLY: Before he took his family and fled, Sasha owned several grocery shops. He considered himself middle class. Now, not so much.

                  Do you blame someone for your life being so changed, so disrupted? Russia? Ukraine? Bad luck?

                  SASHA: (Through interpreter) I blame Russia - Russia and Mr. Putin 100%.

                  KELLY: And then he says, I'm tired. We have heard this from almost everyone we talked to in eastern Ukraine. So many people have said it over and over that I begin to hear their voices in my head rising together into something like a song, an anthem uniting the people of Donbas, no matter their political loyalties, no matter who they believe is to blame for their problems or for this current crisis. We are tired, the refrain would go, of war, of fighting, of worrying. We are so very, very tired.
                  “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                  Mark Twain


                  • #99
                    Another from NPR last night.

                    An interview with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine.


                    Ukrainian foreign minister says global democratic order at stake in Russia standoff

                    NPR's Mary Louise Kelly speaks with Dmytro Kuleba, the Minister of Foreign Affairs of Ukraine, about the global stakes of Ukraine's standoff with Russia and his call for U.S. support.

                    MARY LOUISE KELLY, HOST:

                    The United Nations Security Council is meeting today for the first time to discuss Russia's troop buildup on this country's borders. And, of course, that same troop buildup is dominating the foreign policy conversation in Washington and other world capitals. So it seemed like a good moment to come meet the man in charge of Ukraine's foreign policy. We are here at the Foreign Ministry - big, imposing building. We're going to head inside to meet the foreign minister.

                    On the third floor, we're shown to a sumptuous reception room - red velvet sofas, parquet floors, beautifully painted high ceilings, a stately grandfather clock ticking in the corner.

                    DMYTRO KULEBA: Hi.

                    KELLY: Mr. Foreign Minister.

                    KULEBA: Good to meet you.

                    KELLY: Dmytro Kuleba strolls in. He's wearing a sports coat, no tie, a woven bracelet on his left wrist. It's blue and yellow - the colors of the Ukrainian flag.

                    Let me dive in and ask this - your current estimate of the number of Russian troops on your borders.

                    KULEBA: It's somewhere in between 100,000 and 130,000.

                    KELLY: Between 100,000 and 130,000. And is it still growing?

                    KULEBA: Slowly but steadily. We heard the announcement yesterday that - coming from the Russian Defense Ministry - that they are withdrawing part of the military force, but it's too premature to make any conclusions because we don't...

                    KELLY: What do you think it means?

                    KULEBA: Well, for the time being, it means nothing because we don't understand which units, what is the number of troops that are being withdrawn and, more importantly, where they're being withdrawn from.

                    KELLY: When I interviewed your American counterpart, Antony Blinken, earlier this month, he told me he thinks Vladimir Putin is really good at keeping his options open, that maybe even he doesn't know what his next move will be, that there is still room to influence his next move. Do you agree?

                    KULEBA: Yes. That's exactly where we currently stand. That's exactly what we are trying to do. You know, when the whole - when this - when the first alert was made about the potential Russian military operation against Ukraine last autumn, we were initially told that it may happen until the end of the year. Then the updated intel information was about January. Now you and I...

                    KELLY: Now we're on the last day of January.

                    KULEBA: Now we are on the last day of January. And the only conclusion we can draw is that diplomacy works.

                    KELLY: Help me understand this. Your government says the U.S., the media have been hyping the threat, have been fueling panic. Your government also says, we need weapons - we need more - we need them fast - this is urgent. Which is it?

                    KULEBA: Information is an art. And there is only one difference between us and the United States. We both understand the reality of threat and the risks that Ukraine - and more broadly, Euro-Atlantic security - are facing. The difference is that while the United States prefer to speak about it loudly almost every day, we are quietly focused on preparing the country for any possible scenario. That's it. We in Ukraine do not need to be reminded every day that the war is imminent. We have been living in a state of conflict with Russia since 2014. However, what happens when you start speaking about the war every day and telling the people that this is coming, this is unavoidable, it really hits economy. It spreads panic in the society. It...

                    KELLY: Your currency just hit a four-year low, as I understand.

                    KULEBA: Exactly.

                    KELLY: Yeah, against the dollar.

                    KULEBA: It throws markets into depression. So...

                    KELLY: But you understand how people sitting in Washington might hear what you're saying and think - hang on - we're racing to send hundreds of millions of dollars of weapons to this country that says, don't worry, we got it under control.

                    KULEBA: No, no one is - I think it's a total misunderstanding and an attempt to sow divisions among Ukraine and the United States, something that we...

                    KELLY: The last I want to do. I'm just saying...

                    KULEBA: ...Want to avoid. I'm not blaming you.

                    KELLY: ...What your government has said and trying to make sense of how all of these things can be true.

                    KULEBA: I'm not blaming you for that. What we are trying to do is the following. We - last November, the moment the United States shared certain information with us, we, Ukraine, came up with the idea of a comprehensive deterrence package that should include diplomacy, sanctions and military support to Ukraine. So we were not sitting down with our hands down and expecting anyone to do all the job for us. We are working hard. And again, there is this attempt to show that we are - that there is a big difference between Ukraine and the United States, or that Ukraine does not appreciate what the United States have been doing. It's a misleading narrative.

                    KELLY: You mentioned diplomacy. You are a diplomat, so I'm not surprised that you would view diplomacy as the way forward. But what would work that has not been tried?

                    KULEBA: Well, we have plenty of options in our pocket. I think...

                    KELLY: There have been a lot of diplomatic meetings these recent weeks. And here we are.

                    KULEBA: Meetings is one thing. But here is what I want to achieve. The state of play when we, Ukraine, and its partners, will not be calculating only the leverage as which Russia has on us but will have a clear set of effective leverage in our pocket against Russia. And this includes economic sanctions. This includes the issue of Nord Stream 2. This includes continued military supplies to Ukraine. It may sound weird, but actually, supplying weapons to Ukraine is part of the diplomacy. It's part of the diplomatic effort to prevent the war and therefore prevent the use of these weapons.

                    KELLY: Last question - and it's one that I've put to a lot of people since we arrived here in your country, but I'm curious what your answer is. You're speaking directly to millions of Americans listening right now. Make the case - why is it in the national security interest of the United States to help you, Ukraine, fight this fight?

                    KULEBA: Because what is happening in Ukraine, it's not only about Ukraine. If Russia succeeds here, that will send a clear message to everyone who wants to rewrite rules on which the world is based - that this is possible, that the United States and the Democratic Coalition led by the United States, that they are weak, and if you behave in a bold, aggressive way, you will eventually succeed. So for all Americans, all I can say is that we always said, we are fighting this war. This is our land. These are our people. We don't need your boots on the ground. But help us to fight this war diplomatically, militarily, and we will defend the current world order led by the United States and other democratic countries. And the last reason why your listeners should be interested is very simple - because Ukraine is a nice country, and it's worth being defended.

                    KELLY: Foreign Minister, thank you.

                    KULEBA: Thank you.

                    KELLY: Dmytro Kuleba, the Foreign Minister of Ukraine.
                    “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                    Mark Twain


                    • Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                      Another from NPR last night.

                      An interview with the Foreign Minister of Ukraine.

                      Although Trump would probably be all for throwing them to the wolves. To hell with them as they didn't give me what I wanted.


                      • Originally posted by tbm3fan View Post

                        Although Trump would probably be all for throwing them to the wolves. To hell with them as they didn't give me what I wanted.
                        Oh quite easily. I mean, he had no problem fucking over American citizens because their governors didn't grovel for his help and stroke his ego.

                        Ukrainians that don't "do him a favor" sure as hell aren't going to matter.
                        “He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.”


                        • Originally posted by TopHatter View Post

                          Ukrainians that don't "do him a favor" sure as hell aren't going to matter.
                          Of course as there is no profit, I'll repeat no profit, in it for HIM...


                          • U.S. F-15s on Russia's border a clear message to allies, and to Putin

                            Ämari Air Base, Estonia — Six American F-15s and the U.S. Air Force personnel to fly them have arrived at an airbase in Estonia. The deployment is just part of the Biden administration's efforts to bolster NATO defenses on the far eastern edge of Europe amid soaring tension with Russia.

                            Russian President Vladimir Putin gave no indication on Tuesday that he was about to bow to pressure from the U.S. and its allies to start pulling back the 100,000-plus forces he has positioned around Ukraine's borders. Instead, he reiterated his accusation that NATO and the U.S. are causing the tension by placing missiles and troops in countries close to Russia's western borders and ignoring his demands for "security guarantees" from the alliance.

                            Putin accused the U.S. of using Ukraine as a pawn in a bid to "contain" Russia, portraying his own country as the victim even though the current crisis grew out of his still-unexplained decision to deploy tens of thousands of troops around Ukraine's borders. The Kremlin has insisted for months that it's merely for exercises, and that Russian can do what it wants with its own forces on its own soil.

                            But it was only eight years ago that Putin's forces last pushed into Ukraine, to fight alongside separatists who are still locked in battle with Ukrainian troops in the country's east, and to facilitate his annexation of the Crimean Peninsula away from his neighbor. Few countries recognize Putin's 2014 landgrab, but he made it clear again on Tuesday that, as far as his government is concerned, Crimea is now Russian territory.

                            New images released this week by the Maxar satellite company show Putin's military buildup continuing in Crimea, which most nations still consider an occupied part of southern Ukraine, and to Ukraine's north in Belarus, and to its east, on Russian soil.

                            "During the past couple of weeks, several new significant military deployments have been observed in Belarus," Maxar said in an analysis accompanying its latest images. I said the pictures show new housing for forces, "at virtually every deployment location in Belarus, Crimea and western Russia," indicating an "increased level of activity and readiness."

                            President Biden has said there's a "distinct possibility" that Russia will invade Ukraine again this month, and the White House and its allies have said if that happens, it will be considered not only an aggression against an ally, but an assault on the basic tenets of European security that have kept relative peace on the continent since the end of World War II.

                            The U.S. F-15s now in Estonia — a NATO ally that shares a land border with Russia — joined Belgian F-16s as part of a multinational force conducting air patrols along the alliance's eastern flank this week.

                            As CBS News senior foreign correspondent Charlie D'Agata reports, the sub-freezing temperatures in Estonia are a far cry from North Carolina, where the planes and personnel of the U.S. Air Force's 336th Fighter Squadron are based. Around 120 U.S. personnel have been deployed to the Ämari Air Base, near Estonia's capital of Tallinn and right on Russia's doorstep, along with the fighter jets.

                            D'Agata watched as American F-15 Screaming Eagles soared into the sky from Ämari in a show of U.S. military firepower. The message to NATO allies along the border separating European democracies from Russia is clear: The U.S. has your back.

                            The message to Russia is just as clear: We're watching.

                            The U.S. fighter squadron in Estonia is taking part in what NATO calls an "enhanced air policing mission."

                            "This is a team effort from the NATO alliance," Lieutenant Colonel Taylor Gifford, the 336th squadron's Director of Operations, told D'Agata.

                            That cooperation is vital, because the Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania — all NATO members — are sandwiched between Russia, its ally Belarus and the Baltic Sea.

                            The Russian military has already deployed fighter jets to the region, launched naval exercises in the Baltic and rolled missile systems and troops into Belarus. Moscow says it's just for exercises, but U.S. officials believe Putin could use the presence in Ukraine's northern neighbor, or in Crimea, as potential routes for an invasion.

                            The NATO mission in Estonia was created as a direct response to Russian military aggression. Now, with Moscow threatening once again, it's never been more vital to security in the region. Steps to bolster NATO's presence in the Baltics with additional U.S. forces began after the Russian incursion into eastern Ukraine and annexation of Crimea in 2014.

                            The commander of the Estonian Air Force, Brigadier General Rauno Sirk, told CBS News the U.S. jets that arrived this week are vital, "to bolster, to strengthen the air policing here and to show that the alliance is taking its business seriously."

                            Sirk told D'Agata that a Russian fighter jet crossed into NATO airspace near Estonia over the weekend. On Wednesday, the U.K. scrambled fighter jets to intercept Russian aircraft approaching Britain's aviation "area of interest" north of Scotland.

                            Eastern European leaders are calling for more U.S. military support in the region, including Estonia's prime minister, who said the only thing Russia respects is "an American flag."

                            "American F-15 Screaming Eagles" Sigh....
                            “He was the most prodigious personification of all human inferiorities. He was an utterly incapable, unadapted, irresponsible, psychopathic personality, full of empty, infantile fantasies, but cursed with the keen intuition of a rat or a guttersnipe. He represented the shadow, the inferior part of everybody’s personality, in an overwhelming degree, and this was another reason why they fell for him.”


                            • Looking at the motor pool and my first thought the hell do you get the vehicles out there. I have set up dozens of field laager sites as well as motor pools. This set up is a major fire hazard for all. Smacks of GEN Smart having all the aircraft lined up on aprons in Hawaii to prevent saboteurs...and they were lined up perfectly for strafing Zeros.

                              Zoom in on these to see how it is done right. The top is Sierra Army Depot in Herlong CA. Zoom in on the long lines at the top. The bottom is of FT Benning, GA. Zoom in on the long lines at the to the lower left.



                              That is how you line up vehicles. Notice the wide lanes between lines? That is so you can get vehicles out easily. It also makes sure fire equipment can get in easily.

                              And we wonder why Russian ammunition dumps blow up regularly.

                              “Loyalty to country ALWAYS. Loyalty to government, when it deserves it.”
                              Mark Twain


                              • Originally posted by Albany Rifles View Post
                                To be fair, there are two things in the Russian pic that isn't in the American ones, trees and snow. The Russian pic is an assembly point, not a depot. I don't see enough buildings to say it's a depot. To build it to the American depot specs, you will need to clear a lot more trees, level a lot more ground. Also, take a look at the surrounding trees which brings up the other thing - where are you going to put the snow? The more paths you've got, the more snow you will have to put somewhere.

                                Yes, it's still laziness but after clearing snow 3 blizzards in a row wtih 2 days in between blizzards (must do it or you're not going to get the air freights in), you appreciate on having less snow to clear and stop bitching on where else you're going to put the snow.