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Dear Readers:

Welcome to Awful Avalanche, I hope you will read and enjoy my posts!

Sincerely yours,

yalensis

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Ukraine War Day #279: A Mother’s Grief, Part II

Κρέων:Creon:
ἀμήχανον δὲ παντὸς ἀνδρὸς ἐκμαθεῖνIt’s impossible to really know a man, to know his soul,
ψυχήν τε καὶ φρόνημα καὶ γνώμην, πρὶν ἂνhis mind and will, before one witnesses
ἀρχαῖς τε καὶ νόμοισιν ἐντριβὴς φανῇ.his skill in governing and making laws.
ἐμοὶ γὰρ ὅστις πᾶσαν εὐθύνων πόλινFor me, a man who rules the entire state
μὴ τῶν ἀρίστων ἅπτεται βουλευμάτωνand does not take the best advice there is,
ἀλλ᾽ ἐκ φόβου του γλῶσσαν ἐγκλῄσας ἔχειbut through fear keeps his mouth forever shut,
κάκιστος εἶναι νῦν τε καὶ πάλαι δοκεῖ:such a man is the very worst of men— and always will be.
καὶ μεῖζον ὅστις ἀντὶ τῆς αὑτοῦ πάτραςAnd a man who thinks more highly of a friend than of his country,
φίλον νομίζει, τοῦτον οὐδαμοῦ λέγω.well, he means nothing to me.
ἐγὼ γάρ, ἴστω Ζεὺς ὁ πάνθ᾽ ὁρῶν ἀεί,Let Zeus know, the god who always watches everything,
οὔτ᾽ ἂν σιωπήσαιμι τὴν ἄτην ὁρῶνI would not stay silent if I saw disaster
στείχουσαν ἀστοῖς ἀντὶ τῆς σωτηρίας,moving here against the citizens, a threat to their security.
οὔτ᾽ ἂν φίλον ποτ᾽ ἄνδρα δυσμενῆ χθονὸςFor anyone who acts against the state, its enemy, I’d never make my friend.
θείμην ἐμαυτῷ, τοῦτο γιγνώσκων ὅτιFor I know well our country is a ship which keeps us safe,
ἥδ᾽ ἐστὶν ἡ σῴζουσα καὶ ταύτης ἔπιand only when it sails its proper course do we make friends.
πλέοντες ὀρθῆς τοὺς φίλους ποιούμεθα.These are the principles I’ll use in order to protect our state.
Sophocles: Antigone

Dear Readers,

As the Ukrainian war ever more resembles a Greek tragedy, one starts to wish fervently, if only there was a magic button to push, then a Machine would descend onto the stage, and a God’s authoritative voice, speaking from the Machine, would just fix everything. Maybe even bring the dead back to life. Lowering their masks, the resurrected soldiers would bow to the audience, proving that it was all just a show. And then embrace one another, as brothers are supposed to do. [Except for Azov soldiers, they would stay dead.]

No Power On Earth Like A Jewish Mother

This piece by reporter Andrei Rezchikov, is a continuation of his previous piece, and also features that same bereaved mom Maria Kostiuk. Kostiuk, a political leader in her own right, albeit from a region very distant from the centers of power (=Birobidzhan Jewish Autonomy) looks to be emerging as the natural leader of the Soldiers’ Moms. [Despite my little joke we do not know if she is actually Jewish or just plain Slavic.] Either way, Maria is eloquent; she possesses some political power, determination, and access to Putin. In this segment she speaks out against Ukrainian disinformation campaigns and muses about her plan to organize a political lobby for soldiers and their families. Working and fighting in this manner, will keep Maria occupied and give her life, as well as her son’s death, a new purpose. Putin needs to watch out for this one: She will hold him accountable.

“Ma’am, I need you to step away from the body. We’re just enforcing the Minsk Accords.”

Speaking of which, I saw this piece, on RT of all places. And it’s in English, so you don’t need my help in reading it. I like that Putin mans up and takes responsibility for the excess deaths caused by his long-standing inertia, his failure to react decisively and properly to the Ukrainian military build-up:

“There might not have been so many casualties among civilians, there would not be so many children killed,” the Russian leader suggested. He maintained, however, that back in 2014, Russia did not have a full understanding of the situation in Donbass or of the true sentiments of the locals.

“[We] believed that we might still be able to reach an agreement and … reunify Donetsk and Lugansk with Ukraine within … the Minsk Agreements,” 

Russia did not have a full understanding?? That sentence made me want to reach through my computer tube and grab Putin by his throat. Why is it that even I, a dumb blogger, could see all of this so clearly, even back in 2015? And I have the receipts to prove it. My goodness, Macron and Merkel, and those other NATO snakes gaslighted the man for 8 years and pulled the wool over his eyes, all the while buying Poroshenko, and then Zelensky, more time to build up one of the mightiest armies on the European continent! And all the time shelling the shit out of the Russian speakers of Donbass and depriving Crimeans of fresh water. How many ordinary people, how many children, would still be alive if only…

How does that saying go, “Whom the gods make blind… ?”

Maria’s Ideas

Nonetheless let us return to our piece and read more about Maria, about her plan for building a sustainable organization to mediate between the blind and stupid government; and the families who carry the brunt of this war.

Maria is on a crusade against the ЦИПсО (pronounced “Tsipso“). I kept hearing this word on Russian social media and didn’t have a clue what it meant, until I finally figured out it was the acronym for something called the Ukrainian Center for Informational-Psychological Operations. Psy-ops, in other words. NATO Psy-ops against Russia.

Maria: Just by chance, I raised this issue during my meeting with the President on Friday. The Russian Ministry of Defense is duty-bound to counter-act the activities of Tsipso. Back in my region, we know whose children are out there fighting in the Special Military Operation, therefore we are able to support their relatives if they happen to come into contact with the Tsipso. Their activities have become a problem affecting the entire country.

Maria wants to organize a committee of families of warriors fighting for the Fatherland. Founding organizations include “The Women of Russia”, “Union of Soldiers Families”, “Union of the Women of Russia”, and “Russian Mothers”. Besides Maria, one of the key organizers of this project is Julia Belekhova. Like Maria, Julia is a political leader, she heads the Moscow regional fraction of the National Front, and she also met with Putin on Friday. Julia and Maria will work together to form the kind of organization that can counteract the pro-Ukrainian propaganda and fakes, not to mention extortion scams, issuing from the criminals who work for Tsipso.

Maria: “When my Andriusha perished, I knew that his heroic act would be downgraded in the public space, people would try to nullify his death and make it meaningless. I was aware of the activities of Tsipso, but even I didn’t realize that it would get to that level. In social media I received hundreds of negative messages about my son, along with threats against his younger sister.

Antigone’s family: Torn apart by fratricide.

“These hate-messages threw me into a panic. I was filled with fear. I had gone through so much, and I was not able to cope psychologically with this kind of pressure. Well, there is no way to escape from this sort of negativity, therefore we just need to put up some barriers, we need to deal rather harshly with these sorts of provocations in the informational space. The scariest thing is that some of these people actually live nearby, I saw residents of the Jewish Autonomy participating in these online skirmishes.”

Maria described to Putin how Tsipso and other organizations tagged as “foreign agents” try to play on the emotions of the mothers of soldiers. They push all the buttons, play on their nervousness and anxiety, rub salt in the most painful wounds. Their intent is to convince the mothers to convince their sons to abandon their posts at the front. They urge the sons to defect to the other side, promising the mothers to return either the son alive, or his corpse intact. “Some of the mamas fall for their tricks, even give them their son’s telephone number; and if he happens to have his mobile turned on at the time, they can latch onto his signal and send a rocket onto his location. Or, they have a girl engage him in a chat, the girl flirts with him, learns his location, where his unit is located. And, once again, a rocket!”

Among other stupid things it does, Tsipso creates lame anti-Russia memes like these.

The relatives of Russian soldiers are under enormous pressure. Pro-Ukrainian social media bombard them with fakes: photographs and sometimes fake documentation alleging that their loved one is in Ukrainian captivity; and that the Russian military is trying to hide this fact from them. The goal is to drive the person into a panic; in which case he or she becomes even more susceptible to psychological manipulation. Maria: “This is where we can be of help, myself and those who think like me. We can help to authenticate whatever information they have received, and most of the time we can prove to them that nothing bad has happened to their loved one.”

The Ukrainian 72nd Center of Informational-Psychological Operations (Tsipso) was founded in 2004. During the past few years it has operated exclusively in the field of anti-Russia propaganda. Its main task is to create psyops diversions against the Russian enemy. Prior to the Special Military Operation it mostly engaged in over-the-telephone cons and money-extracting scams. A hacker from the group RaHDIt once revealed, anonymously, to the Russian press, that Ukraine actually has four such centers. The main one, the 72nd, used to be located in Brovary (Kiev region), until it was eliminated by a Russian rocket attack early in the war. The 83rd Center is in Odessa, the 74th in Lvov, and the 16th in Zhitomir. Reporter Rezchikov ends his piece by pointing out that these Tsipso specialists have all been trained by foreign specialists, in their dark arts of Information-Diversion and Psy-Ops manipulations.

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Ukraine War Day #278: A Mother’s Grief, Part I

Dear Readers:

I don’t like to get into numbers games about how many casualties, etc. War is war, and soldiers die. However, the best estimate I saw was from Brian Berletic on his “New Atlas” podcast, which you can find on youtube and Rumble. Using his best analysis and taking into account many factors, Brian estimates that, in the past 9 months of the war, something around 8,000 Russian soldiers have been killed. An average of around 1,000 per month, give or take. People can dispute these numbers; my main point being that it is not physically possible for the Russian President to meet personally with, and console, all 8,000 mothers of these soldiers.

Having made that point, today I have the story of Putin speaking with a selected group of mothers of Russian soldiers who lost their sons on the Ukrainian front. This is one of those sad but necessary political rituals that any wartime leader must perform. Looking at the photo, it seems like this was a morning meeting; and that the moms were treated with coffee, cake, fruit salad and pastries.

This meeting took place on Friday, Nov. 25, just 2 days before Russian Mothers Day, which is always celebrated on the last Sunday of November. Usually there are flowers.

We’ll start with this one, by reporter Andrei Rezchikov, who tells the story of Maria Kostiuk, who lost her son back in August.

Maria Kostiuk: “The main impression I took from the meeting: The head of our government is fully informed about everything. He knows everything there is to know about the equipment [of our boys], the oversights of the military departments, the combat battalions, the types of officers, everything. My son told me that he had the good fortune to serve under the kind of boss who did not treat his subordinates as simply soldiers [but rather had a fatherly attitude towards them]. The President is fully aware, just how painful it is for us mothers to talk about the loss of our sons, because it is simply impossible to pick the right words when speaking about our pain.”

Maria is not just any mom. She is the Deputy Chairman of the government of the Jewish Autonomy of the Russian Federation (Birobidzhan). Maria’s son was Senior Lieutenant Andrei Kovtun, who commanded a Company of motorized riflemen. It was on his second tour of duty that Andrei perished near the town of Spornoe, on the territory of the Donetsk Peoples Republic. According to Maria, her son fought at the front since the very start of the Special Operation and gave his life to save other soldiers. The very definition of a hero.

Putin speaks with Maria Kostiuk

Maria: “The President’s words convinced me even more that my son died fighting for a just cause. I had never doubted it, and I also believe in this cause, which cost my son his life. And it meant a lot to me that the head of our government recognizes my son’s heroic feat and treats it with respect.

“He came home [in between deployments]. On July 29 he turned 26. He was ecstatic that he was able to celebrate his birthday at home, for the first time in 10 years. And then on August 4 he was off to the front again.” On August 10 Maria’s son was dispatched on a mission to help extract a reconnaissance unit that had fallen into an ambush near the town of Spornoe. “He dashed into the fray to help the other lads, gave them covering fire. He was able to save the sappers. Andrei himself was killed, but thanks to him others lived.”

Andrei left behind a wife and son, Maria’s grandson: “Grief does not care, if you are an entrepreneur, a teacher, or a bureaucrat. Grief cuts to the human heart. I am the mama of an officer. But I am also the Deputy Chairman of the government of the Jewish Autonomy. I am that bureaucrat that everyone writes about, how we hide our loved ones from the army; that we try to sabotage the mobilization. I don’t know where people get these ideas, the other bureaucrats that I am familiar with, there are many counter-examples [to that stereotype].”

Maria reports that each of the moms that she knows, deals with her private grief in her own individual way. Some volunteer at military locations, even at the front lines, not as fighters, but helping to organize humanitarian aid, that sort of thing: “My comrade mothers are goal-oriented, strong, courageous, they so well understand the importance of what is going on, that, when talking about their sons, they struggle to hold back their tears. Although, I have to say, that at this meeting, everybody cried without exception.”

In the course of the meeting, Putin told the mothers that he is personally in contact with many of the individual soldiers, that he talks to them over the phone, and is always impressed with their dedication and their businesslike attitude about their work. The President stressed that the entire nation shares the pain of those who have lost loved ones at the front. The Russian government pledges to support the bereaved families in any way that it can.

[to be continued]

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Ukraine War Day #277: Apocalypse Tonight!

Dear Readers:

This piece, by reporter Alexander Boyko (Title: Apocalypse In the Dark), paints a very bleak picture of today’s wartime Ukraine, and how much ordinary people are suffering. If, during the years 2014-22 only the residents of the Donbass endured such dangers and deprivations, now everybody has to share in the suffering, even in previously privileged places such as Lvov. Granted, this is a piece of propaganda. Not the lying kind of propaganda, the facts presented are all true. But perhaps the type of propaganda where all is made to seem much more desperate and on a much broader scale… For example, I could pick up a newspaper from my own town and become convinced that it is much too dangerous to walk out into the street, due to the current crime wave. I would be murdered or kidnapped the moment I set foot on the street. And yet, most likely, I could stroll down to the corner store and back, without incident. Perhaps it is that way for many, if not most ordinary Ukrainians as well. And yet I am sure that Boyko is not exaggerating by very much….

Customers in cities like Kiev and Lvov have gotten accustomed to shopping in the dark.

Boyko: Life in the Ukraine is becoming ever more interesting. Either they send you directly to the front; or they kill you or kidnap you right out on the street. Marauders are ransacking abandoned flats, which used to have alarm systems installed. On the dark city streets pedestrians are mugged and murdered, foreigners are at great risk of being kidnapped for ransom. While municipal authorities are pondering how to plan for long-term outages of electricity and heat, the residents are asking themselves: Are there going to be pogroms?

The Ukrainian public are already involved in discussions of the type: If our supermarkets in Kiev and Lvov should be looted by marauders, then what kind of stuff should we grab first? People are advised to go for the cigarettes and samogon [craft, or home-made booze], since those items can always be exchanged for other products. Also moist towelettes, with which many Ukrainians have become accustomed to cleaning themselves [in the absence of running water]. A mere 10 towelettes is enough to clean one’s entire body, although some people have learned to do it with only five. For a home-made toilet [in the absence of flushing water], people recommend taking kitchen-size garbage bags. It is also recommended to grab candles and batteries, and to keep at home enough water to last for 5 days. One may use one’s bathtub and sink to hold the spare water; or perhaps even an aquarium tank, if one is handy.

Collections From the Third Reich

Boyko: I know a guy who lives in Kiev, let’s call him Sergei. (All names have been changed.) For many years he collected antiquities. From the U.S., or auction sites in Europe, or dealers from Russia, he would buy medals, gold coins, honorary weaponry, protective armor of medieval knights. Now this whole collection has turned into a burden for him: What Russians call a suitcase without a handle (чемодан без ручки): Too difficult to lug around, but one regrets throwing it away.

“I’m worried the Russian troops will come, and take this away from me,” the antiquarian confides in the reporter. “You know that in Russia you have to have a license to keep museum weapons in your collection. And who is going to provide me with such a permit? Due to this, I have been forced to slowly sell off my collection, and just for kopecks. Whatever I can’t sell, I will bury somewhere, and then I will leave the country.”

But what about selling his entire collection within Ukraine? It’s complicated. People are very reluctant to spend their foreign currency, which constantly rises in value. People are only buying small things that they can hide in their pockets: coins, jewelry. These things are worth more than gold now, and people can easily sneak them past the border guards when they leave the country. But larger items, especially antiquities, require the assistance of professional smugglers. And they don’t come cheap. And even then, one must worry that Ukrainian or Polish bandits might get tipped off and seize the loot. Romanians as well: Both Poles and Romanians are known for their thieving ways.

yalensis: I can’t help but think about that final scene in Ilf/Petrov’s famous novel “The Little Golden Calf”. In which the hero Ostap Bender is fleeced by Romanian border guards, relieved of all his ikons and jewelry, when he attempts to flee from the Soviet Union.

Boyko asks his acquaintance: What is the state of the Antiquities market in Ukraine nowadays?

“It’s a catastrophe. Somebody just recently dumped onto Ukrainian sites several collections of weapons from the Third Reich; French medieval armor and shields from the era of Louis XIII; all kinds of medieval weaponry. These exhibits are worth hundreds of thousands of Euros. But even in Europe, nobody wants to buy these objects any more.”

People Are Disappearing From Lvov

Boyko continues his interesting conversation with his antiquarian acquaintance, Sergei. He suggests helpfully: “Why not move your collections into a bank vault?”

“The banks could be nationalized at any moment or looted by Nationalists. Besides, it’s getting harder and harder to secure any property, even in banks. For hours at a time there is no electricity, which means the security cameras don’t work either. The streets are full of armed groupings of low-IQ citizenry, so even a bodyguard is not going to help you. Not to mention that you can be stopped and arrested in the blink of an eye. In which case you’d give them anything to get away. For example, [while driving] I was recently stopped randomly at a checkpoint, so [the soldiers] could examine my phone. On my phone they saw a number from the Russian Federation. I don’t even know whose it was, it could have been junk mail or spam. But they almost killed me on the spot. They only let me go when I pointed out to them that the so-called conversation didn’t even last one second. I was shaking all over, knowing that in my car I had an album full of coins worth tens of thousands of dollars.

The goons at the checkpoint didn’t notice Sergei’s coin collection.

Loss of power has engendered outbreaks of criminal activity, not only in the capital of Ukraine, but also in cities such as Lvov, Odessa, and Kharkov.

Another one of reporter Boyko’s acquaintances is “Andrei”, who is a resident of Lvov: “The number of apartment burglaries in Lvov has skyrocketed. It’s gotten to the point where elderly residents are afraid to leave their flat. People are being murdered even for small sums of money, armed drug addicts are extorting pensions from pensioners. There are even cases of children murdering their parents in order to get their modest pension. Sometimes it happens that well-off people simply disappear, and everybody assumes they left for Europe. Throughout the whole of the Ukraine there is a hunt on for foreigners. Even former [foreign] mercenaries are being kidnapped, for the ransom money from their families. And the kidnappers don’t even worry about withdrawing the money [of their victims] from the ATM machines. Sometimes they just walk right up to the ATMs accompanied by an entire, fully-armed Nationalist platoon.”

According to Andrei, the Territorial Defense Units of the Ukrainian army have become criminalized to such a degree that they have begun to divide up Lvov into different criminal regions, after meeting with other organized crime leaders. And these mobsters are not just locals, but also involve the international criminal community. Already back in the 1990’s, all the smuggling routes between Lvov and Poland were set up, and these same routes still function reliably at 100% capacity.

Diplomats’ Cars Carrying Hand Grenades

Andrei: “Back in those days [the 90’s], people trafficked in counterfeit electronics and sneakers, later it was stolen automobiles, and nowadays it’s mostly narcotics and weapons. Weapons especially change hands without any kind of controls. There was this old barn near a neighboring house, where some military guys had built a cache of weapons. Every night cars bearing Polish diplomatic plates would approach the windows leading to the basement, and people would emerge carrying boxes and crates. People say that Ukrainians arms caches are being sold to criminal gangs in Europe for a quarter of their actual value. After passing through the Polish border guards, these weapons make their way to the end-customers in Czechia and Germany.”

All that remains is to hope that the local criminal class, armed to the teeth with grenades and machine guns, has not decided to attack a NATO nuclear base; but will just stick to robbing banks and museums. After all, millions of Ukrainians received the possibility of settling down in Europe, according to their own standards of what constitutes a dignified life. And now it is the turn of Europe and the U.S. to endure these newcomers.

Graeme Biggar

The Ukrainian criminal class (and by the way, it is precisely the Ukrainian criminal class which people in the U.S. and Europe used to call “Russian”) has started to express an interest in heavy weapons; a fact which arouses the unease of an Englishman named Graeme Biggar, who holds the title of Director General of the National Crime Agency. Although he probably gets a lot of jokes about his name, Biggar is serious about combatting organized crime and narco-trafficking. And, according to reporter Boyko, Biggar has expressed his apprehensions that at least some of the grenades and machine guns and so on, provided to the Ukrainian army by Western countries, may wind up in Great Britain, in the hands of criminal gangs and terrorist cells.

The Ukrainian underworld, meanwhile, has bigger fish to fry: They are already busy driving out other criminals throughout Europe, taking over whole swathes of mob-type businesses such as prostitution, narcotics and gun-running. But in this, they are forced to compete with other non-native criminals from Africa and Asia. At stake are huge profits, and it’s only a matter of time before Western “heavy weapons” start falling into the hands of extremists and terrorists. There may come a time when the “civilized” world begins to associate the word de-Ukrainization with the word de-criminalization.

Posted in Human Dignity, Military and War | Tagged | 28 Comments

Ukraine War Day #276: Let’s Talk Ammonia (Part III)

Dear Readers:

Concluding this mini-series within a series, with my review of this piece by reporter Darya Volkova. Darya’s main source is an economist named Ivan Lizan. We have met Ivan before in previous posts, which is why I was able to find a photo of him in my media library. He looks to be a capable young buck, with a firm jaw, a strong hairline, and a keen gaze.

But first: valued reader and commenter Beluga supplied this link to a translation (into English) of the important meeting between President Putin and Russian oligarch Dmitry Mazepin. With this, readers can take it in and make up their own minds. Recall that the accusation against Putin is that he is making what should be purely military decisions (e.g., whether to withdraw from Snake Island and Kharkov; whether to exchange POW’s, etc.) based on the economic and profit interests of his oligarchic friends; and not so much on the actual needs of the army. Well, there are two sides to every story, of course. I reckon the proof of the pudding will happen if we shall see 10,000 Ukrainian soldiers returning from captivity to their posts all of a sudden, coinciding with the re-opening of the ammonia pipeline.

Ivan Lizan

Speaking of which, let us return to Lizan: “The export of ammonia passing through the territory of Ukraine, and via the Odessa port factory, was halted right at the start of the Special Military Operation. The main advantage to resuming this export along the exact same route, consists in the fact that it can be simply restarted, without any delays.

“Otherwise the Ammonia route will continue to stagnate, and the Togliatti-Azot works will have to sell their production for export, dragging it in cisterns all the way to Taman, or to Temruk. And that wouldn’t even be until after 2025, after they finish building a port to handle the ammonia.”

yalensis: It goes without saying that the transport and loading/unloading of such a poisonous substance as ammonia, requires special facilities, and even special maritime ports and equipment. According to wiki: On land, ammonia is usually transported as a pressurized liquefied gas, by railway in tank cars, by highway in tanker trucks, in agricultural areas in nurse tanks, and also via pipelines traversing through populated areas. So, when they talk about the Togliatti to Odessa pipeline, this is what they are actually talking about: A pipeline traversing through populated areas because, paradoxically, that is way safer than having trucks speeding along the roads carrying this stuff and risking getting into collisions.

The main ammonia plant in Tolyatti was constructed as a joint project of the Soviet Government and Armand Hammer. TogliattiAzot started operations in 1979. The Tolyatti-Odessa ammonia pipeline, the longest ammonia pipeline in the world, is operated by Transammiak.

The picture becomes clearer by the minute: The Soviet Union built this pipeline, which (along with the ammonia) belonged to all of the Soviet people. Now, through the magic of capitalism, it all belongs to just one man, Mr. Mazepin!

Togliatti-Azot workers fix a leak in the pipeline.

Lizan: “We still don’t know if this idea [of putting the Togliatti-Odessa pipeline back into play] is going to be achieved. This issue was one of the things discussed in the framework of the grain deal. But Kiev, as you know, is refusing to take on the obligations it promised.

“The deal that would have suited everybody was this: During its time of transit across the territory of Russia, this ammonia is Russian. The moment it reaches the border with Ukraine, then it transfers into the property of a foreign company that has ties to Togliatti-Azot. This foreign company then pays the transit fees through the territory of Ukraine, right up to the Odessa port factory.

“Unfortunately, Kiev kept putting forward various supplementary conditions for allowing the transit. For example, Zelensky kept asking us to release captured Azov Battalion soldiers, in return for permitting the ammonia to pass.

“And then recently, the Ukrainian President put forward still another unacceptable condition: a prisoner exchange in the format of All for All. Therefore, I am not at all sure that it is even possible to work out a deal with him; but that’s not my call, that would be the call of the Ministry of Defense.”

Or maybe the call of a single billionaire? To be sure, Mazepin is a “legal” oligarch who pays taxes into the Russian budget. Reporter Volkova researched open sources and learned that the Russian treasury used to receive up to $12 billion dollars annually from the export of ammonia via the Ukraine to the West. All of this wonderfulness came to a halt on February 24 of this year. Then, around a week ago (November 18), the grain deal was extended for another 120 days, as brokered by Putin, along with his outstanding and extremely honest partners, Erdoğan, and Guterres from the UN.

Apparently Mazepin hoped that the ammonia trade would come back to life and just ride along on the back of the grain deal, but this was unclear. Although Western media had reported that the West had offered Russia some security guarantees for the renewal of the ammonia deal. So Mazepin had every reason to hope that his cash revenues would start rolling in once again. But then the Ukrainians threw a wrench into it, with their demands for a big prisoner exchange.

So, that is where we stand now, and we can only wait and see what happens next.

Posted in Economics, Military and War | Tagged , | 9 Comments

Ukraine War Day #275: Let’s Talk Ammonia (Part II)

Dear Readers:

Continuing our discussion. The Viktor Alksnis tweet was in response to this piece from November 23. The lede paragraph:

Ukraine may permit the transit of ammonia from Russia; but only in the context of a prisoner exchange in the format “All for all”, according to Zelensky. In response to Dmitry Mazepin’s request to solve the “political issues” involved, Putin promised to discuss the situation in the UN.

As mentioned by Alksnis in his tweet, Putin met publicly (on TV) with Mazepin, a major officer in the company Ural-Khim, which produces ammonia. Mazepin also chairs an organization called the Russian Union Of Industrialists and Entrepreneurs (Российский союз промышленников и предпринимателей, РСПП). I reckon this would be the equivalent of the American Chamber of Commerce.

Dmitry Mazepin

Born in 1968, in Minsk, Belorussia, Mazepin initially took a career path into the Soviet military, graduating in 1985 from the Suvorov Academy. He took a specialty as a military translator [his wiki doesn’t say what other languages he knows], and served in Afghanistan from 1986-88. After the break-up of the Soviet Union, Mazepin changed his career track to politics/business, and graduated (1992) from the Institute of International Economic Relations, under the Russian Ministry of Defense. Since then he has occupied important positions in large Russian companies and governmental institutions.

Mazepin has been the Chairman of the Board of Ural-Khim since 2007. For a time he also worked in the state-owned Gazprom, and there are allegations that he somehow managed, seamlessly, to convert certain public assets into his own private ones, when he set up his own oil and gas company. In 2010 Forbes counted him as among the 100 richest Russian businessmen, with a worth valued at $950 American dollars. By 2017, also according to Forbes, his value had increased to $7.7 BILLION. After the Russian incursion into Ukraine, Mazepin and his son Nikita have both been put on sanctions lists by the EU and Great Britain.

A Very Public Request

During his public meeting with Putin, Mazepin reminded the President of the grain deal that had been reached back in July, amongst Russia, Turkey, the UN and Ukraine. Included in this deal was a provision about re-establishing a special pathway for Ammonia to travel from the Russian city of Togliatti, to the Ukrainian city of Odessa.

Mazepin: “But a lot of time has passed since then, and I don’t see any movement. We hoped that when the grain deal was reinstalled, which happened recently, then this question [about the ammonia] would also be resolved. But I need to convey to you, that the Ukrainian side is putting forward a series of political questions, which we [Mazepin’s company?] are not competent to answer.”

In the article linked, the caption below the video reads: “Ammonia is a key component of fertilizer. Prior to moving its troops into Ukraine, Russia accounted for 20% of all ammonia transported by sea. […] On the day when the Special Military Operation began, the company Togliatti-Azot halted its exports of ammonia. Later, the UN leadership raised the issue of the inadequate supply of ammonia on the world market.”

Okay, I think we are all starting to get the picture here. So, Putin is holding a meeting, right on television, with this important oligarch, who is man-splaining to him why they need to send ammonia over a pipeline from Russia to Odessa. And apparently this oligarch has been negotiating with the Ukrainian business and political community on his own behalf, as the private owner of this important substance; but the other side raised some issues that he felt needed to be “kicked upstairs” to the big guy.

He asked Putin, within the framework of the grain deal, to temporarily open and secure the flow of ammonia into the Odessa port, whence it may then make its way into developing countries, including Africa.

Ah! That’s so sweet! Mazepin truly cares about the African people. But what was Putin’s reply?

“We know the parameters, we know the numbers, we know the volumes involved. That this would be a clear win for all the parties involved in this process, is also clear. So, we will work with the UN, with our colleagues from that organization. We shall see what happens. You already know my position, and I am not opposed to this.”

If the Russians can ship ammonia out of Taman, then they won’t need Odessa.

For his part, Zelensky is also not opposed to this either. It would clearly be a huge political win for him to exchange his 500 Russian prisoners for 10,000 Ukrainians. So many Azov Nazis and mercenaries free to return to the front lines, so they can continue to wreak their trademarked havoc!

In Mazepin’s defense, he has a more far-ranging plan for future development; so that the Odessa gig would be just a temporary kluge. For the past year Ural-Khim has been constructing an alternative route and a port in the Russian town of Taman, just across the bay from the Crimean peninsula. However, this kind of development would cost around 50 billion rubles. They hope to finish building the new pipeline and port by the end of next year. Mazepin: “Since the fall of the Soviet Union, not one single port capable of handling ammonia has been built [in our country], and this is why we are so constrained and become dependent on other countries, who have such ports.”

Next: We will hear from economist Ivan Lizan, and what he thinks about all of this.

[to be continued]

Posted in Economics, Military and War | Tagged | 16 Comments

Ukraine War Day #274: Let’s Talk Ammonia (Part I)

Dear Readers:

Valued reader Ortensio F. posted a comment on my blog alluding to a Telegram “Tweet” posted yesterday by Viktor Alksnis, aka “The Black Colonel”.

I want to discuss this tweet, but I plan to do this in two parts: Today I’ll just translate Viktor’s tweet, and also give some background to the unique biography of this Russian patriot.

Then tomorrow we can review the source material together, both the piece that he linked, and also another piece I found in the Russian mainstream media.

This all has to do with the grain/fertilizer deal, and ancillary issues such as prisoner exchanges. So, let’s get started.

A Brief Biography

In his Telegram profile, Alksnis explains why he calls himself The Black Colonel: “I confirm that this really is me, Viktor Imantovich Alksnis, a Peoples Deputy of the USSR, also a Parliamentary Deputy of the Duma of the Russian Federation. Why do I call myself the Black Colonel? That’s what the Liberal media called me back in the 90’s, when they accused me of attempting a military coup.”

Viktor is the grandson of Yakov Alksnis (Latvian Jēkabs Alksnis), a Latvian Old Bolshevik (I don’t know if he was Jewish or not, his first name implies his might have been, but I’m not sure) and Communist military leader. Eventually Yakov was promoted to head the Soviet Air Force. Like thousands of other Soviet officers (and like one of my own ancestors), Alksnis perished in the 1938 batch of purges, victims of Stalin’s paranoia and Voroshilov’s dishonest manipulations. Long story, no time… Yakov was officially rehabilitated in the late 1950’s, but not before his wife and family members had suffered a lifetime of persecutions, as relatives of an “enemy of the people”. Fast forward to the 1990’s, where grandson Viktor, a loyal Communist and Soviet patriot, opposed the break-up of the USSR. Viktor put together an Opposition group against the Gorbachov/Yeltsin coup. They failed, but Viktor survived the subsequent purges, and managed to find lots of other things to keep him busy, in his life. In the current Russia-Ukraine war, Viktor takes a hawkish approach and criticizes Putin from the Left. As a hard-line Communist and member of the systemic Opposition, Alksnis has been very critical of Putin’s handling of this war and considers the Russian President to be “too soft”. With an insinuation about the true cause of the softness.

Viktor Alksnis, Soviet Air Force Colonel. (Photo by Peter Turnley/Corbis/VCG via Getty Images)

Here is my translation of Viktor’s tweet:

I do not understand the President of the Russian Federation. A war is raging in the Ukraine, and it seems like this should be the main focus of his activity. But instead of this, he is welcoming a Russian oligarch named Dmitry Mazepin, the owner of the company Ural-Khim, and discussing with him a purely commercial problem: The renovation of the ammonia pipeline Togliatti-Odessa. It seems the oligarch is suffering some financial losses. Moreover, this important meeting was broadcast on the TV channel Rossiya-24.

In the past, also in order to help out this same oligarch, Putin issued the command to withdraw troops from the Kharkov Oblast. Given that this misbegotten pipeline runs through Kharkov territory. And that the Ukrainians demanded such withdrawal as a condition for renewing [and permitting] the transit of the ammonia. As a result of this “assistance”, the Ukrainian Armed Forces advanced all the way to the state border with Russia; and now on a daily basis, and with full impunity, continue to shell the Belgorod Oblast [of the Russian Federation], killing innocent citizens of the RF while destroying residential homes and infrastructure.

Now, once again, Putin has promised to help this oligarch solve his problems. What will he give in return? Zelensky is demanding of Putin, in exchange for renovating the ammonia pipeline, an exchange of prisoners by the formula “All for all”. But here’s the thing: We have around 10,000 Ukrainian POW’s, and they have only around 500 of our guys. Is this considered an even exchange? Frankly, I am worried that Putin will agree to this deal. And not just to this. I have the impression that he is willing to do just about anything to serve the interests of the Russian oligarchs. While the deaths of the Belgorod residents, and of our soldiers and officers, seems to be of secondary importance to him.

At the very least, he needs to explain, once and for all, to the citizens of Russia, what exactly it is he intends to achieve in Ukraine, and whither he is leading the nation. Instead of meeting with an oligarch in front of the television cameras, maybe he should conduct a meeting with Minister of Defense S. Shoigu and with the Commander-in-Chief General Surovikin; they should be discussing the general situation and the course of events in Ukraine; not to mention the shelling of Belgorod. Unfortunately, I doubt that we shall see such a televised meeting, or that we will finally get to hear what the President thinks about these issues.

Next: The same topic of Ammonia deals, this time from the Russian mainstream media.

[to be continued]

Posted in Economics, Military and War | Tagged , | 4 Comments

Ukraine War Day #273: Kiev Regime Searches Monastery

Dear Readers:

I don’t often write about religion because, honestly, it is not a topic that interests me. But I realize that many people are religious and care about these matters deeply. And I can understand why Russian Orthodox Christians might be quite upset about one of their top monasteries in the world, this exquisitely beautiful landmark, being rudely invaded and searched by clumsy slab-faced Ukrainian goons from the SBU-heir-to-Soviet-KGB.

Well, we are talking about a very famous monastery in Kiev, called the Kiev-Pecherskaya Lavra (the word “Pecher” or sometimes “Peshcher” meaning “cave”), founded in the year 1051 by Prince Yaroslav the Wise. Who truly was a very clever and able ruler, not to mention a wise guy. Full disclosure: I once visited this amazing site myself, as a student-tourist, that was long before this current war. It’s really spooky when the guide takes you down into the caves and you see all the mummies of ancient monks, lying in a kind of bunk-bed type arrangement on the walls of the caverns.

Anyhow, this monastery was one of the very first built in Kievan Rus after the Russian people, with a little encouragement from the top, discarded their former pagan religion and converted to Byzantine-style Christianity.

Each mummy has his own slot in the wall.

This monastery has always been at the center of political intrigues. From 1592 to 1688 the Lavra was a Stauropegion directly subordinate to the Patriarch of Constantinople. In this capacity it fought against the pro-Polish Uniates. Within the overall culture war of the medieval epoch, the Lavra helped to pull together a “Little Russian” identity that was beneficial to Moscow, and not so beneficial to the other side (Lithuanians, Poles, Germans, Swedes, etc.)

A word of reminder: the term “Little Russia” (Malaya-Rossiya) is not a derogatory. Westie ignorami always get this wrong. Russians divide their ethnos into 3 major tribes: Greater Russians (Veliko-Ross), Little Russians (Malo-Ross) and White Russians (Belo-Ross). Despite Westie ignorance in these matters, these terms are neither a derogatory, nor a glorification. The terms are simply calqued from the Greek. For example, you had “Micro-Graecia” (smaller, or Micro-Greece) which was the core land, or the heartland, out from which the Greek ethnos proceeded. These wandering Greeks established “Magna-Graecia” (Greater-Greece) which included new lands and colonies. Similarly, Eastern-Slavic Russians believed that Kiev was their heartland. Not of the ethnos per se (Russians were spread everywhere, Novgorod was established around the same time as Kiev), but of the Christianized sector, hence “Micro-Russia”, or Malaya-Rossiya. From thence Russian Orthodoxy expanded out into the Greater regions, hence Greater Russia or Velikaya-Rossiya. This is the reason why Moscovite Russians called themselves “Great Russians” (a better translation is “Greater Russians”), and it has nothing to do with glorifying themselves, as in “Ooh, look at us, we’re so great!”

Recall the opening phrase of the Soviet National Anthem: Unbreakable Union of free Republics, was built to last forever, by Greater Russia…

You see that this use of the word “great” (Velikaya) is semantically different from the same adjective when used in conjunction with, say Peter, as in Peter the Great. In that case, they really are saying that he was a great guy. Same word, but different meaning. Hence the confusion. This is why I personally prefer to use the translation “Greater Russia” instead of “Great Russia”. It hints at those vast treks of our ancestors and is also, paradoxically, flattering towards Ukraine, as it gives Kiev the laurels of being the true Russian heartland!

Religion Is Sacred, But Let’s Talk Turkey

But back to the history, and let’s talk turkey here (considering that tomorrow is Thanksgiving Day!)

All religious doctrine aside: Being a Little-Russian meant that you were Byzantine Orthodox and friendly to your Muscovite neighbors. The alternative was to be a “Uniate” which meant, in essence, being a Catholic, friendly to Poland, and hating Moscow. This is a gross over-simplication, of course, but I stipulated I would talk plain turkey.

Anyhow, leaping forward to the present day: The Lavra remains under the political/religious control of the Ukrainian Orthodox Church which, in turn, is subordinate to the Moscow Patriarchate. Hence, given the current war being raged directly by Russia vs Ukraine, one can see why the Kiev regime is highly suspicious of any enterprise that takes its order from Moscow! [Again, for purposes of simplification, I am ignoring some developments that happened in the past few years, when the Ukrainians, under Poroshenko, organized a Schism within the Ukrainian Orthodox Church, and half of their property went over to the pro-Ukrainian schismatics who have their own phony Ukrainian Patriarch, long story, maybe we’ll get into that later…]

Officer, Do You Have A Warrant?

All of that is historical context to our topical news story of the day, the reporter is Dmitry Zubarev.

Today (Wednesday) the Ukrainian SBU announced that when they searched the Kiev Cave Lavra yesterday from top to bottom, their slab-faced goons found some highly suspicious items. Namely, “pro-Russian literature, and millions in cash.” Ooh! Do tell!

A Russian Orthodox cathedral in Rivne

Aside from the Kiev Lavra, the SBU also searched three other “pro-Russian” monasteries, two in the Rivne Oblast, and also some properties of the Sarny Eparchia. This is what the SBU found during their searches:

Over 2 million hryvna [around $54,000 American bucks]; $100,000 of actual American cash; and several thousands of Russian rubles. [Well, maybe these monks like to have a stash of cash for a rainy day?]

Also a stack of “pro-Russian” literature, whatever that means. [Could be a Pushkin poetry anthology, or maybe some Tchaikovsky CD’s, for all we know].

In all, an amazing number of 350 church properties were subjected to this search. It’s almost like the SBU has nothing better to do, even when they are steadily losing the war and Russian spies are falling out of every tree! More ominously, 850 citizens of Ukraine, Russia, and other countries, were drawn into this dragnet; of which 50 were subjected to intensified interrogations with the help of polygraph machines. (Let’s hope they were only polygraph machines, and not crude tasers!)

In conclusion: On the one hand, it is very easy to laugh at the Ukrainians: Look, they’re so paranoid now, they are even going after churches! And you can bet the Russian government is playing up these shenanigans for every possible drop of propaganda value: Oh, they are persecuting innocent monks!

On the other hand, we know that religion has always been an effective tool of struggle between various political, and even military, factions. One only has to look at centuries of Ukrainian history: The “Little-Russian” people have ever been pawns on that vast chess board where rages the struggle between two civilizations: Western Catholicism versus Russian Byzantium.

Posted in Military and War, Religion | Tagged | 29 Comments

Ukraine War Day #272: Why Shell A Nuclear Power Plant? Mystery Explained

Hamlet:
Slanders, sir; for the satirical rogue says here that old
men have grey beards, that their faces are wrinkled, their
eyes purging thick amber and plum-tree gum, and that they have a
plentiful lack of wit, together with most weak hams; all which, sir,
though I most powerfully and potently believe, yet I hold it not
honesty to have it thus set down, for yourself, sir, shall grow
old as I am, if like a crab you could go backward.

Polonius:
[Aside] Though this be madness, yet there is method in’t.

Dear Readers:

Polonius (behind the curtain): “Owee! Owee!”

Today I have this piece by reporter Alexei Morozov, who helps to explain a very curious mystery: Why are the Ukrainians so persistently, and so stubbornly, bombing the Zaporozhie Nuclear Power Plant (NPP)? Are they simply nuts? Or do they have some kind of rational purpose?

I mean they are nuts to do this, that much is clear. Yet there is method in’t, in the words of a very perceptive Polonius. The Ukrainians cannot win this war by conventional means, hence they are engaging in Gonzo Warfare! Allow me to explain. Or rather, Morozov:

On Sunday, 20 November, the Ukrainians resumed their shelling of the Zaporozhie Nuclear Power Plant. The fire is being directed, very precisely, at the nuclear waste storage site. And this is no accident.

When the first shellings started, back in April, experts tried to figure out if it was physically possible to destroy the actual reactor, using shells and rockets. To be sure, nuclear power stations are built to withstand just about anything. But most of the layers are protection are around the actual processes taking place inside the reactor. It never occurred to anybody that somebody would actually keep shelling an NPP. There are actually no precedents for this. Fortunately, the experts believe that damage to the actual reactor is highly unlikely. The shielding was built to withstand even a small airplane crashing into it, according to expert scientist Alexander Prosvirnov.

But if they cannot destroy the reactor, then what are the Ukrainians actually after? Prosvirnov believes that he knows the answer:

Westinghouse fuel is not the greatest, but it still works.

“They are going after the nuclear waste. The Zaporozhie NPP was built for, and used to operate on, Russian fuel. In the past, the Russians would remove their waste products and utilize them in other processes. But several years ago, the Ukrainians broke ties with Russia and converted to American fuel, supplied by Westinghouse. Which, by the way, is not really suitable for this type of reactor, but it still functions, more or less. Now. the bad part is that the Americans do not remove their waste. And so it just lies there on the territory of the station; and is not guarded very well.

“They purchased a license from a certain firm, for dry waste storage containers, and placed them on the territory of the NPP. These sites are vulnerable, they could emit contamination if shelled. It’s a sort of poor man’s Dirty Bomb.”

So, what would happen, hypothetically, should a rocket blow up the nuclear waste products? There might be an explosion. It would not be the same as an atomic explosion [i.e., no mushroom cloud], but it could still emit contaminated products, radioactive ash and dust, which would rise up into the atmosphere. After which, everything that happens next depends on the direction of the wind. Nuclear waste contains isotopes, including short-lived ones, which would dissipate and become harmless fairly quickly; but also the kind that could contaminate the soil and water, for a long time to come. Once again, everything depends on the wind, on the precipitation levels, and thousands of other factors that cannot be predicted.

In conclusion: The Ukrainians are trying, with all their might, to create and set off a Dirty Bomb, using stuff that is just lying around.

Who Is To Blame?

Rafael Grossi: “It’s so funny, because I am totally in cahoots with them!”

yalensis: That’s it for the article. One must repeat the question: Why would the Ukrainians want to set off a dirty bomb? Well, I reckon, for the same reason they toyed with the idea of flooding the Left Bank of the Kherson Oblast:

In order to shoo the Russians away! It’s so obvious! They are hoping that General Surovikin will lose his nerve and pull his guys out of Zaporozhie, rather than risk them getting irradiated by a dirty bomb.

Now mind you, the situation is somewhat different from Kherson. Kherson City was on the Right Bank of the Dniepr, and there were lots of other issues involved apart from possible flooding; namely, the difficulty of supplying so many troops from the other side of the river with just pontoon bridges. The Zaporozhie NPP, on the other hand, is already on the Left Bank, so supplying the garrison there is not an issue. The only issue is the risk of the dirty bomb going off. I am not sure what Russians can do to mitigate this risk. Maybe the soldiers should wear bunny suits all the time?

Meanwhile, the most evil character in this entire story is Rafael Grossi, head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). It is his job, and I am sure he receives a very good salary, to protect the world against precisely this kind of threat. And yet it is clear as day that Grossi is totally in cahoots with NATO and the Ukrainians. (And dubious, at best, to imagine that the Ukrainians just undertook this mad scheme on their own, without NATO input and approval.)

Hence, if the Ukrainians do succeed in setting off that dirty bomb, then Grossi must answer for the entire catastrophe. Like Polonius, maybe he will just try to hide behind a curtain?

Posted in Military and War, Space, Science and Technology | Tagged | 13 Comments

Ukraine War Day #271: To The Last Ukrainian (concluded)

Dear Readers:

To help us figure out what is going on in Kherson, I have two pieces, this one from yesterday (reporter is Mikhail Moshkin), and this op-ed from a couple of days ago, written by Igor Karaulov, the title of his piece is;

The Triumph Of the Kiev Clowns In Kherson Is Only Temporary

Karaulov: During the past 9 months Kherson has lived through various phases. As we recall: Initially the Russian troops did not take down Ukrainian flags; and pro-Ukrainian activists were allowed to demonstrate in the streets and terrorize ordinary residents who came to receive Russian humanitarian aid. In the next phase the blue-yellow flag was replaced with the Russian tricolor, and the pro-Ukrainian protests gradually dissipated.

Russian pundit Igor Karaulov

Around the beginning of autumn, events started to develop precipitously. A referendum was conducted, in which 87% of those Khersonites who came out to vote, chose to join Russia. Then, at the beginning of October, the Kherson Oblast, along with the Zaporozhie Oblast and DPR and LPR, officially became a subject of the Russian Federation. But very soon after that, General Surovikin hinted at the upcoming “not simple decisions” that had to be made, regarding not just Kherson but the entire Right Bank. And subsequent to that, the population was evacuated, and the Russian troops pulled out.

Next, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) entered the city. They were greeted, granted not in very large numbers, but with Ukrainian flags and shouts of “Slava UAF!” In other words, the locals were trying to prove their loyalty. Some say that these people were just the so-called “watchers” (ждуны), in other words, secret supporters of Ukraine who had been patiently awaiting the arrival of their own. [yalensis: Many of whom were probably card-carrying members of right-wing Nationalist cadre parties, of which in the Ukraine, there are quite a lot of these parties.] Others believe that these are the very same people who, earlier, delighted in Russia, it’s just that they re-considered and changed their clothes.

English press reports approvingly of the lynchings of “collaborators” in Kherson.

Karaulov continues: In my opinion, I think these welcoming crowds consisted of both types of people. As for the latter type: Well, people are simply afraid. They are scared that the Ukrainians will get even with them. The more afraid they are, the more vigorously they wave the blue and yellow flag. You see, things have gotten serious in occupied Kherson. The very first sign of Ukrainian law and order: Unfortunate people tied up to posts or trees. This is Lynch-Law, and it appeared quite quickly in Kherson. “Stabilization measures” were introduced. This means that denunciations are collected against people who are suspected of sympathizing with Russia. These people are then subjected to barbaric repressions. Do we have the right to condemn people who are simply forced to protect their own lives? Remember that we are talking about ordinary people, innocent civilians. To be sure, they were all given the opportunity to evacuate [to Russia], but, due to various reasons, not everybody was willing or able to do this.

One needs to add that the population of the Ukraine which, for centuries, was a battlefield between major powers and also an arena of internal conflicts, developed a certain attitude about national loyalty. Governments can switch, but one always needs to eat. Therefore, one’s own little garden, one’s cottage, one’s family — these are the most important things, the most prized things. And one learns to adopt a philosophical attitude in regard to political changes.

“A Wedding in Malinovka” – Soviet film from 1967

Show me any populated point in Ukraine, during the Civil War the government changed quite frequently. This fact is reflected in the famous film A Wedding In Malinovka. During the years of the Great Patriotic War, certain cities such as Kharkov, were twice occupied [by the Germans] and twice liberated by the Red Army. And in our days, we see exactly the same thing. The town of Pavlovka in the DPR was liberated by our soldiers, then it was lost, and recently liberated again. Whenever power changes, the local population suffers, not just from the military actions, but also from the “rebuilding” of their lives which occurs afterwards, including banal acts of revenge among neighbors.

For sure, it is a bitter thing to see the capital of a Russian region under the control of the UAF. But we have to push our way through this experience, just as our forefathers did. People ask, does Russia still possess any tools, with which to help the people of Kherson? I think that they do. For starters, the Russian Constitution – it contains a firm pledge on the part of Russia, to return Kherson along with the entire Right Bank of this Oblast. This obligation cannot be subject to trade or compromise. The Khersonites need to be sure, once and for all: The triumph of the Kiev clowns is temporary. Russia will take her own back. But, for them to know that, we need to be absolutely sure of it ourselves.

The lives of tens of thousands of evacuated [to Russia] Kherson residents are also very important. Russia must show the utmost care and attention to these people; must prove to them that we will not leave them high and dry. Those who remained behind and were occupied, need to understand that their neighbors, those who chose to evacuate to Greater Russia, lucked out.

And last but not least, one would like to believe that a bona fide pro-Russian underground movement will be organized in Kherson. The Khersonites need to know, that people are watching their words and deeds.

yalensis: That’s the end of Karaulov’s op-ed. That final paragraph sounds a bit ominous… Personally, I wouldn’t encourage people to join an underground, because we all know what happens to most Resistance movements, and it’s usually not a nice thing. Be that as it may, in the next segment we will learn more about the looming humanitarian crisis in Kherson. And, as always, the issue is Who Is To Blame? Whether Russian shelling of infrastructure; or vicious Ukrainian incompetence.

They Don’t Want People To See

Now turning to Moshkin’s piece. The reporter sees two possible reasons why the Kiev regime wants to clear people out of Kherson. His main source of opinion is a man named Alexander Malkevich, who serves as the “Unpaid Advisor” to the (Russian) Governor of Kherson Oblast.

Alexander Malkevich

Malkevich: “Factually we see that Kiev has no intention of organizing normal life, or smoothing things over for the people in occupied Kherson. The Ukrainian government is doing exactly what we accused them of doing.

“That humanitarian catastrophe of which I kept warning about, it has happened. The Ukrainian side understands that they cannot hide what is actually happening, because more and more photos and videos are appearing on the internet.

“It’s a paradoxical situation. On the one hand, within the city they are turning the screws, there is extreme censorship, daily filtration activities and also, unfortunately, executions. On the other hand, the Ukrainian authorities were motivated to get the communications network up and running as soon as possible — mainly for military reasons — but when the mobile networks and internet came back online, this turned into a double-edged sword for them.

“You see, people started to use the internet again. And thus we are receiving ever more factual information about what is really happening there. We know how much benzine costs, up to 500 rubles per liter. We see the people standing in line to buy generators, all the queues for products; other indications of a humanitarian crisis. We see how some people are handing out fake humanitarian aid, for example a bus arrives supposedly with some goods, and it turns out to be some garbage from the European second-hand.

“As a result, more and more [Western] journalists are coming in, trying to get some stories about supposed Russian atrocities, but they can’t help but notice the humanitarian catastrophe in the city. Therefore, primarily for the purposes of image management, Vladimir Zelensky and his team have decided to remove the people from Kherson.”

Reason #2, according to Malkevich: “There is also a military reason to depopulate Kherson and the Right Bank. The Kiev regime wishes to turn this whole area into a fortified region. Something like a combined fortress-city and buffer zone.”

In either case, the Kiev officials have no intention of engaging in economic development of the region.

Posted in Economics, Linguistics | Tagged | 17 Comments

Ukraine War Day #270: To The Last Ukrainian…

Dear Readers;

When nations are at war, it is normal for warriors to indulge in boasts and taunts, on either side. But this practice should probably be retired, especially in the era of the internet, WHICH REMEMBERS EVERYTHING, and then throws it back in your face!

For example, every time Alexei Arestovich opens his mouth on youtube and goes off on some soliloquy about the magnificence of the Ukrainian spirit and how they never retreat, yada yada, there is always at least 10 pro-Russian trolls on hand to remind him of his famous boast towards the beginning of the war: “We will NEVER surrender Mariupol. I repeat that and underscore: We will NEVER surrender Mariupol.” See, if he had just said something like, “Well, I mean, someday, we might have to leave Mariupol. But fear not, WE SHALL RETURN!” Then he would have covered himself.

Speaking of Lusya, I was watching him on Mark Feigin’s youtube channel a couple of nights ago. Some big rift has happened between those two scoundrels, I can feel it in my bones. Feigin the Jew was always the more gung-ho anti-Russian, pro-Azov Battalion fanatic. But now he knows that the gig is up, I can tell. Something changed around the time of that Polish missile debacle. Feigin’s core loyalty has always been to NATO itself, not to the Ukraine. And now it’s Lusya who sings the patriotic torch-songs. In this particular episode she was in fine form, declaiming a magnificent pathos-filled soliloquy worth at least one Hamlet plus a couple of La Pasionarias:

“We will fight the Russians to the very last Ukrainian. If we run out of bullets, we will fight them with sticks and shovels. If they kill every one of our soldiers, then the Ukrainian grass itself will surge up and suffocate the occupiers.”

Lusya: “The very grass itself will rise up and snuff those Russian meanies!”
No pasarán! (oops, here they come… Get me on that fucking boat!)

Uh huh. This rhetoric was so ridiculous, that even Feigin had to freeze his ugly face, so as not to roll his eyes. La Pasionaria by the way (she’s the political hack who shrieked, “They shall not pass!”) ended up hoisting her Stalinist ass out of Spain with much assistance from the Soviet NKVD, as Franco’s victorious troops approached. In other words, “No Shall Pass” suddenly morphed into: “Oops, they passed!” Another life lesson in the necessity of avoiding bombast. And this is why it is not recommended, even if one happens to be on the side of the Angels in this Apocalyptic war between Good and Evil, to make such dramatic, all-encompassing statements in the heat of the moment. Because the worm can turn, and you never know when you will be forced to eat your words.

Almost Game Over

It is said that NATO intends to fight this war to the last Ukrainian, in the hopes of bleeding Russia dry. But how far is the Kiev regime willing to go? How about, removing 30 million Ukrainians from their own land, in order to create a cleaner battle zone?

Seriously though. When Ukrainians are told that they have to either (1) fight Russians with sticks and shovels, and get themselves killed, and then rely on their astroturf to avenge them; or (2) leave their own country because there is no more electricity…

Some people start to question whether this is all necessary. Hm… Maybe our Dear Leaders should have considered the option of negotiating a deal with the angry Russians? Or is that too radical a thought? Cue the strikes in Odessa, where ordinary people came out into the streets to protest the blackouts and the cut off of electricity. The Ukrainian authorities immediately sensed a threat there, they set about to squelch the protests. See, oddly enough, even though the Russians are technically to blame for bombing Ukrainian energy infrastructure, it seems like ordinary working people in Odessa blame their own government more than they blame the Russians. The Kiev regime knows this, in their guts, and they won’t tolerate this kind of dissent. People are supposed to lie down and die! Then let the very soil avenge them.

Speaking of Kherson…

Next, we need to talk about what is going on in Kherson. Speaking about “passionate declarations”: A couple of days ago I saw some pro-Ukrainian chicken-hawk venting on social media: “We can live without food, water, heat and electricity. But we can’t live without Kherson.” Well, buddy, maybe you need to learn a new way of living, because even the Ukrainian regime wants to live without Kherson. Well, I mean, they still want the real estate, obviously. But they don’t want, or need, the people.

To help us figure out what is going on, I have this piece by reporter Vera Basilaya. Yesterday Ukraine’s Deputy Prime Minister Irina Vereshchuk recommended a “voluntary evacuation to safer regions” of all Kherson residents. The good news is that the Ukrainian government assumes the financial responsibility of relocating the residents. Where they will get the money from, I do not know, since they have no money. But be that as it may… We are learning that, ever since the Russians left, food and medicines are in short supply; and many people are forced to light fires and cook their food out in the open.

Vereshchuk is recommending that people think about resettling, at least for the winter, in Nikolaev or Krivoy Rog. It must be nice to live in such a mobile country where everybody is free to just move about as they please, or have a winter home in another region; and nobody needs to worry about leaving their job. Or maybe they all work remotely now… whenever they have internet and electricity…

When I was a child, I used to fantasize about living in a trailer, being able to pull up stakes and just drive about wherever I pleased. The Ukrainian people are living my dream!

[to be continued]

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