Ukraine War Day #324: The Algorithm Of Looting

Dear Readers:

“We come to take your stuff!”

Back in my childhood, when I read the Russian national poem “The Tale of Igor’s Regiment” for the first time, I was rather shocked by the scenes of battlefield looting. Which the medieval bard described in lip-smacking and lavish detail: All the gems, the furs, the bracelets and armlets, the fine brocades [whatever a brocade is, I’m not sure], the bejewelled swords, the beautiful slave girls, ahem… First the Cumans looted everything that wasn’t nailed down; and then the Russians looted from the Cumans; and then the Cumans looted all their stuff back from the defeated Russians. “Is that what it’s all about?” I wondered naively. I always thought war was about fighting and showing off one’s courage. But is it actually just about stealing stuff? And then, as I grew taller and studied history, I learned how the Nazis distinguished themselves as among the greatest thieves of all time. They would steal anything: from a cheap ballpoint pen, to a priceless work of art. This made me respect the Nazis less. Genocide is horrible of course, but there is something about petty thievery that is simply repulsive. The banality of evil, there’s your hashtag.

Anyhow, today I have this story by our plucky girl-reporter Alyona Zadorozhnaya, who covers the war beat. The headline for her piece reads:

There is an exact algorithm for Ukrainian Army looting in Donbass cities, before they flee

That sounds harsh, but I don’t think Alyona is exaggerating. Witness after witness have testified to the gargantuan Ukrainian appetite for taking other peoples stuff. In fact, even before this war started, there were lots of rumors…

Alyona: “Get out of my way, this scoop belongs to me!”

For example, I remember a long time ago reading an article about the behavior of Ukrainian troops in Iraq, that was back in the day when they were sucking up to the U.S. by sending a “contingent of the willing”, the stories that were told… For example, at one airbase the Americans had laid out an “all you can eat buffet” for the allied troops. The Ukrainians didn’t comprehend this means “into your belly”, so they cleaned out the entire place, like locusts, in just the course of a few minutes. What they couldn’t eat on the spot, they would stash away, for later. The Americans were appalled by this crude peasant behavior, but there was nothing they could do about it.

And this is the sort of thing the Donbass residents have to deal with. When they are not busy being killed or tortured, they are being robbed blind by these undisciplined bandits.

Rodion Miroshnik, from the Luhansk Peoples Republic: When leaving populated areas, the Ukrainian Armed Forces (UAF) traditionally take away with them entire columns of cargo, which consists of the personal items of the residents. This same thing just happened recently in Soledar as well. “The reality is such, that, during the past few months the UAF have thrown into Soledar and Artyomovsk an enormous number of troops. And among them are not a few from the criminal class. And let’s face it, most of them regard the Donbass people as aliens, not their own kind.

“One cannot expect anything different from these soldiers. Without any sign of shame or embarrassment, they just rob entire cities, they openly engage in maraudering and looting. Their commanders don’t even try to stop them. When our own troops enter the cities, they see everything left in ruins, houses where everything has been ruined or spoiled.

These Ukrainian soldiers lucked out, because their commander didn’t abandon them. Yet.

“The UAF even have a kind of algorithm. First the armed formations enter the city and start taking the automobiles, under the guise they are requisitioning for the needs of the army. Then they start entering residential homes and quartering themselves, against the will of the residents. Which act turns these homes into fire targets.

“Then we also have multiple eye-witness accounts of fleeing UAF troops travelling with entire columns of cargo, which consists of the property of the local residents. They take absolutely everything: from small personal items to mattresses, and even furniture.

“We are also getting reports of UAF commanders abandoning their units, this is one of the hallmarks of the current crop, along with their proclivities for looting.”

According to some residents of Soledar, the Ukrainian soldiers, upon fleeing the town, would take with them any and all household appliances and would even steal all the toilet paper. [yalensis: That last one, I don’t really blame them for that, given the conditions in the trenches…] They would break down the doors and fences to any house that looked empty, and then load everything they could into stolen cars, and drive away.

Not exactly the image of trapped and shivering soldiers, caught in a cauldron and waiting to die. Heck, these guys could get legitimate jobs as movers and packers. Sort of like this American company called “College Hunks”, they will pack up your entire house and move it, with a cheerful attitude, and for a reasonable fee. And that’s hard work, too. These Ukrainian soldiers are supposed to be starving, where do they get the energy to move all this freight?

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26 Responses to Ukraine War Day #324: The Algorithm Of Looting

  1. Liborio Guaso says:

    These mercenary-soldiers know that this is just a business of which they bear the brunt and the lack of morals leads them to steal everything they find and in the same way the rape of women must be part of the fight. The only thing that interests the bosses is that they are happy and ready to die.
    The use of elite Nazi troops to stop anyone backing down says everything about the morale of the troops.


  2. Arnould says:

    Do the Ukrainiens take the soil when there is nothing else left to loot ? I read a long time ago that the during WW2 trains went east with armament, and because it was a waste to send them back empty, they were loaded with ukrainian soil, the most fertile in the world.


    • yalensis says:

      Before the war started, I read somewhere that some American company (I think, Monsanto) had bought up a lot of Ukrainian “black earth” topsoil. I doubt if the soldiers loot soil, though, it’s probably too heavy.


    • I’m gonna make a Devil’s Advocate comment here, prefacing it by saying that the Ukronazis are indeed devils. However, it’s common practice to accuse one’s foes of being unbelievable thieves. Not that I like the Ukes, but what’s the proof? I am sceptical of everything, even when it’s coming from a side I agree with.

      From bits I see on pro-Ukie forums (I don’t dabble in those much, but I observe occasionally just to get the vibe of the other side) it’s an article of faith that the Russians are massive looters in the current conflict. “They steal the toilets and send them back to Russia!” is a common claim. (Psychologically speaking, that’s a two-fer of shame, because it splatters the reviled ones with accusations of thievery AND an unclean bodily function.) Soviet troops were accused of taking everything that was not nailed down in the parts of Germany that they conquered during WW II, even window panes. (And toilets too, of course.)

      Remember how Saddam’s thugs were throwing newborns out of incubators in Kuwait during 1991, so they could steal the hospital equipment? Except that was officially-promoted fake news. There was supposedly a lot of looted material on the “Highway of Death” aerial turkey shoot when the Iraqi army was fleeing after getting walloped then, but how much of that was exaggerated by Westie media?

      Undoubtedly there were high-level Nazis stealing artworks, and the concentration camp authorities grabbed gold teeth from the corpses of their Holocaust victims. The Nazi theft of train cars of chernozem, which I’ve read about for years, does not make sense, except as maybe a small-scale propaganda terror thing — “Ve Germans despise you untermenschen so much that ve will even rob you of your dirt!” It requires more energy to haul a soil-laden box car than an empty one, and the Nazis were chronically short on fuel. Plus, how many farms can each carload cover, is it a sensible use of manpower to dig it up on the one side and ladle it out at the end, even when it’s being done by slave labour? I have my doubts about that Old Warves Tale.

      (As an aside, do you remember the anecdote from “Slaughterhouse 5” about the American POW who was hung by the Germans after they found him with a jar of pickles that he had filched from the ruins of a fire-bombed house in Dresden where the prisoners had been sent to search for bodies? That was tearfully sad. Vonnegut came across as truthful in that part of the book — moreso than about Montana Wildhack and the Tramfamadorians — so it seems like the Nazis were hard-bars about unapproved looting.)

      Again, Ukronazis are dogs, and no doubt they steal shit. But as far as having a regimented system of looting as mentioned as cited here, I’ll believe it only after I see more evidence. How many cars can they swipe in a zone where there’s no petrol (or car keys? Anti-theft devices like steering column locks are everywhere now.) Are they going to schlep furniture and household appliances when they’ve been starving in artillery-blasted trenches for weeks, as they’re fleeing for their lives? Exaggeration is part of the Fog Of War. Question everything!


      • yalensis says:

        It’s good to question everything and retain a skeptical attitude. “Show me the proof,” you can never go wrong with that.

        When it comes to Vonnegut I wouldn’t trust him though. I read “Slaughterhouse 5” as a teenager and thought it was a great book. Then re-read later, as an adult, and with the second reading I came to the conclusion that Vonnegut was a pro-Nazi apologist. Not that I approve of Dresden, that was a horrendous war crime. But I think Vonnegut’s love of Nazi soldiers shines through when he depicts them as noble upstanding beings enforcing the laws against looting, etc.
        Besides, in this case, the American POW was looting German property. If he had looted a Soviet jar of pickles, they probably would have been cool with that.


  3. peter moritz says:

    There is a difference between the looting by the Nazis, which apparently was a highly organized affair only happening at the upper level of command and politics, to satisfy the appetite of the Nazi leadership.

    As far as I know from the personal history of my relatives – almost all males served in the Wehrmacht (my Grandfathers on the mother’s side had four sons, three of them served in Norway, Russia, and Africa, one was excused because of medical problems)- they brought usually nothing back from the war, happily having survived, but injuries and maybe some photos.


  4. Antoinetta III says:

    If the commanders have abandoned their units, doesn’t that mean that the unit is no longer an organized fighting force?

    Antoinetta III


    • yalensis says:

      That is my understanding. I have been reading throughout this war, that the Ukrainian commanders have a very bad habit of abandoning their troops, especially in their time of greatest need. Analysts say that this is a top reason why troops will give up, i.e., when their commanders leave. That makes sense. Even just in the ordinary workplace, if the boss throws in the towel and quits, then the regular workers would lose their motivation.


      • Mrdomingo says:

        My suspicion is that commanders are under orders to save themselves above anything else as the military is seriously short of trained commanders at all levels.


        • yalensis says:

          That actually makes sense. But in the Russian army, the commanders are expected to be right out there with their troops, and even die with them. But I reckon the Russians can more easily replenish the supply.

          Liked by 1 person

  5. S Brennan says:

    Back in the day, I was proud to call myself a US Soldier, some years ago American commanders started calling soldiers “warriors”. I thought this a bad thing [and still do].

    A soldier is disciplined individual, knowledgeable in the science of war, an instrument of state when the State Department and the 3LA’s fail at their jobs which, it seems, is their only known M-O.

    A warrior on the other hand is any homicidal maniac willing to war…sometimes effective but more often, the source of fratricide, infighting, insurrection [the real kind, not the stuff on TV], mayhem, murder and it goes without saying, rape/robbery.

    Now if the US Military under, [it should be noted], the leadership of the 3LA’s was batting a thousand I’d be out of line, however, they haven’t even managed to get on base in seventy five years…I think it’s time to return calling soldiers..soldiers and leave the comic book warrior fantasies to pajama wearing gamers that live rent-free in their parent’s basement.


    • yalensis says:

      Yeah, I also thought it was ludicrous to call ordinary soldiers “warriors”, it’s part of the self-flattering American culture. The same culture that calls nurses “heroes” for just doing their job on the hospital ward. When you continue flattering everybody, eventually you would get to the point like in that Lake Woebegone skit where “all the school children are above-average.”


    • Daniel Rich says:

      @ S. Brennan,

      A warrior on the other hand is any homicidal maniac willing to war

      My image of a warrior is a guy/gal ready to kill [anything under the sun]. Soldiers are supposed to shoot at other soldiers, but throughout history, ordinary peasants paid heavy for their [over] lord’s shenanigans.


  6. the pair says:

    my first introductions to the ideas of wartime looting were lawrence of arabia and the “fighting hellfish” episode of the simpsons. thomas harris made it a major and detailed plot point in his “hannibal rising” prequel and did an impressive job. those characters were lithuanian scumbags who worked with the nazis so these ukies are probably life imitating art.

    on the bright side – to paraphrase trump’s idiotic statement during domestic unrest – if these guys “are looting at least they aren’t shooting”. i’d bet a lot of them had ZERO plans to do any actual combat and just wanted an excuse to enjoy their gangland hijinks without the pesky cops turning up to arrest them (or more likely to collect bribes).


    • yalensis says:

      Did Trump actually say that? what a dweeb! Looters are known to be violent, they mostly likely carry guns or might even firebomb a place, it’s not like they are Cary Grant the gentle cat burglar who “only wants the jewels, ma’am” and wouldn’t hurt a fly.


      • S Brennan says:

        I think Trump said “shooting leads to looting, honor George Floyd…don’t riot”

        But the same media people who breathlessly reports each “game changing” NATO victory in Ukrainia are also EXACTLY the same people who assured us that Trump was worse than Hitler. Scratch a Trump-hater and you’ll find a neocolonialist who said nothing about Libya/Syria/Ukraine[circa 2014] wars initiated under Obama.

        Liked by 1 person

        • yalensis says:

          Well put. Trump is very annoying, but there is nothing on this planet more nauseating than an Obama/Hillary/Biden enthusiast.

          Liked by 1 person

          • S Brennan says:

            Thanks Y,

            I add that Trump-haters include the Bush/Cheney/Romney/McConnell…et al. And those folks…are the people that brought us Gulf-War II, the Iraq invasion. Ironically, these very same R’s are now chummy with the aforementioned miscreants of the D party.

            The neocolonialists of DC are one big circle jerk and until they are removed from power, no human progress in the west is possible. Imagine the gall of these people, they truly believe that they, neocolonialist [D/R’s] are the sum total of human wisdom on the planet.

            Liked by 1 person

  7. “These Ukrainian soldiers are supposed to be starving, where do they get the energy to move all this freight?”

    The same place as starving Salafist headchoppers in Aleppo found the food to grow impressive pauches.


  8. Nanker says:

    “whatever a brocade is, I’m not sure”

    It’s from the old French word “brocart”.
    Nah don’t thank me! And give my regards to the glorious Russian army! Best in the world!


    • yalensis says:

      Well, thanks anyway, Nanker! Apparently a brocade is a finely-produced fabric woven on a shuttle-loom, often with lush colorful threads and patterns. Even mobile armies like the Polotvsi carried these fabrics around with them in their travelling tents, along with gems and fine pottery. (The Russians had them too, they were familiar with loom technology, I think.)

      Anyhow, when Prince Igor’s soldiers were hankering for loot, they always had their eye on these oriental fabrics, makes a fine gift to take home to the wife. Especially the wife who is perched on the walls of Ukrainian Putivl, crying for her hubby.


  9. ”Then they start entering residential homes and quartering themselves, against the will of the residents. Which act turns these homes into fire targets.”

    And that’s why the Sacred Constitution has the Third Amendment! (Your lesser-known amendment. Even though it apparently ranked pretty high in the list of priorities at the time. Better than 5th, eh?)


    • yalensis says:

      The Third Amendment of the American Constitution:

      No Soldier shall, in time of peace be quartered in any house, without the consent of the Owner, nor in time of war, but in a manner to be prescribed by law.

      I reckon that came about because the American patriots got sick of English redcoats setting up inside their authentic colonial houses. Probably putting their boots up on the authentic antique colonial furniture and demanding a mug of beer from the housewife.


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