Ukraine War Day #452: Bakhmut Falls +Travel Unites Families

Dear Readers:

First a quickie headline that everybody has already heard: Bakhmut fell to the Russians. Yesterday, May 20, exactly one year since the fall of Mariupol. Some coincidence, huh? Even the Russian mainstream press is allowing itself to emit a restrained “hoorah!” According to reporter Anton Antonov, whose parents apparently had no imagination:

The head of the Russian government Vladimir Putin congratulated the Wagner Storm Brigades for the liberation of Artyomovsk, as well as all those military formations which provided them with indispensable assistance in covering the flanks. All of those [soldiers and officers] who distinguished themselves will be awarded medals.

“We done it, boss! All ten of us!”

Next: From War to Peace, with Tolstoy’s blessing…

What If Marco Polo Had A Direct Flight?

The ability to travel, even long distances, in a relatively short amount of time, is one of those modern conveniences which many families appreciate. It helps them to stay in touch and visit with each other.

For this purpose, citing both economic and humanitarian reasons, Russian President Putin, this past May 10, signed a decree that ended the banning of direct air travel between Russia and Gruzia. Immediately travelers took advantage of this lifting of the ban, they took off on flights between Moscow and Tbilisi. From the Russian side: many tourists eager to visit this beautiful Caucasian nation and take advantage of the famous Gruzian hospitality. Also lots of people visiting relatives. In addition to the direct flights, visas were waived; which made the trips even more convenient; basically all people had to do was purchase a ticket and hop on the plane.

The two Russian airlines flying this route are Azimut and Red Wings. In the other direction, the Gruzian company Georgian Airways will fly people from Tbilisi to Moscow. The very first of these flights from Moscow to Tbilisi was booked up within minutes. The airline provided free champagne to the passengers. After the flight landed, some irate customers complained about the rowdiness of certain Russian passengers. Apparently there was a group of adult hooligans, mostly women, who drank too much champagne onboard and turned the flight into a party plane. We all know that type. They go “wooo!” and won’t give any peace to anyone.

The reporter of the linked piece, Dina Karpitskaya interviewed several Russian travelers arriving at the Tbilisi airport on that first party plane. But the people she happened to meet were respectable citizens. Each had a different, but good, reason for taking the flight. For example, one woman was just eager for a vacation. Another Russian woman was visiting family: “My mother is a Gruzian, as is my husband. He is meeting me here today.” On the Gruzian side, people working within the Hospitality Industry (hotels, restaurants, etc.) were eagerly looking forward to servicing Russian tourists again; because the latter bring good money into the country; and the Gruzian economy could use a little boost right now.

Gruzian Opposition not happy about the flights.

Not everybody was happy, though. It is shocking that in this carefree Caucasian land noted for its hospitality and cherishing of guests, some people actually held up signs reading “You are not welcome!” And here we see a difference in opinion between a politician who is responsible for the well-being of his people; vs a NATO plant who answers only to her masters in Washington DC and who serves only American interests.

Namely, the Gruzian Prime Minister Irakly Garibashvili is happy enough about the direct flights and the non-visa permissions. But his colleague the President, Salome Zurabishvili, is not happy at all. Nor is the pro-Saakashvili political opposition. It makes them sick to their stomachs when they see Russians and Gruzians getting along. They will keep reminding everybody who listens, that “Russia still occupies 20% of our territory.” By which they mean South Ossetia and Abkhazia. None of whose residents want to have anything to do the Kartvelian Nationalists who ran the country into the ground under Saakashvili.

Later it was revealed that the relative of a famous Russian politician was planning to visit Gruzia. The Gruzian Radical Opps went ballistic. The politician in question is none other than Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. Here is what reporter Dmitry Alexandrov reported out of Tbilisi:

The chairman of the ruling Gruzian Dream party Irakly Kobakhidze called it “pure xenophobia” and “an outbreak of Liberal fascism” when the Opposition demonstrated in the Eastern city of Kvareli, once they learned that a wedding was to take place involving the brother of the son-in-law (брат зятя) of Sergei Lavrov. “They want to create chaos in our country,” Kobakhidze complained, when he heard about Opps clashing with police to try to disrupt the upcoming nuptials.

Kinship Ties

The city of Kvareli lies 150 km east of Tbilisi. The hotels in that town are abuzz with wedding preparations. The groom: He is the brother of the husband of the daughter of Lavrov. Got that?

Kinship terms are always complicated, and most languages don’t have even enough words to describe all the possible relationships within an extended family. For example, once when I was visiting a branch of my family in Texas, I was introduced to a man who was the cousin of the husband of my sister. What was I supposed to call him, my cousin-in-law?

The Russian word зять (pronounced something like z’at’ with soft palatalized consonants, almost like lisping) can mean either “son-in-law” or “brother-in-law”, depending on the context. If it’s son-in-law, it would be the husband of your daughter. If it’s brother-in-law, it would mean the husband of your sister. Like most Slavic kinship terms, these words have ancient roots going way, way back in time to the Indo-European tribes. The Indo-European root is reconstructed as *ǵenh₁ which would have been pronounced something like gyenKH, and it obviously is the root of such words as “genesis” and “genetic”. Not to mention “genteel” and “gentleman” (“gentle” in the sense of “well-bred”). The basic core/root meaning “to give birth”, also (in various children languages) “seed”, “offspring”, and by extension, some type of kinship. Although the semantics eludes me, when we are talking about people not genetically related, like in-laws. But whatever… I reckon the thinking behind it was something like, “He married into the family, so he’s one of us now, like our own offspring.”

In any case, it cannot be said that, whatever happens in Gruzia, Lavrov will become his own grandpa; because that would just be wrong.

This entry was posted in Celebrity Gossip, Economics, Friendship of Peoples, Military and War and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

39 Responses to Ukraine War Day #452: Bakhmut Falls +Travel Unites Families

  1. John Kane says:

    @ nicolaavery
    Nice chart but rather basic to a Canadian of Irish decent. Not long ago I met a first cousin, twice removed on my father’s side. It took us a couple of minutes to sort out the relationship. 🙂

    Still that does not solve the @yalensis problem of how to deal with relations-by-marriage. I typically just ignore them (the relationships, not the people).


  2. nicolaavery says:

    I didn’t say it would


  3. countrumford says:

    They say there will never be a color revolution in America. Oh why is that? It is because there is no US Embassy in America. The sign in English is a hoot. My fav is protestor holding a blank card to be filled in with photoshop at a later time.


  4. MrDomingo says:

    Zet is the term used in Balkans equivalent to Russian зять. So, it sounds very similar. One of volunteers in Donbas has зять as a callname / nickname.


    • yalensis says:

      Thanks. If that’s the Serbian word for “son-in-law”, then I reckon it’s exactly the same word as its Russian countertype. Here is the backstory:

      In the series of [phonetical] sound changes in Common Slavic (when there was just a single language, with dialects), the Indo-European soft consonant /g’/ morphed to the Slavic sibilant /z/, Linguists call this process satemization . Not to be confused with “sodemization”.

      With this change under their belts, Proto-Slavs would have started to pronounce the I-E root /*g’en/ as /zen/.

      In a later sound change, still common to all the Slavic languages, and seen in the spelling of Old Church Slavonic texts, the nasal syllable /en/ then morphed to a single nasal vowel written Ѧ in the Cyrillic alphabet and usually transliterated with the phonetic symbol [ę], it would have been pronounced something like the French -ai- in pain (“bread”). In other words, hold your nose and say “aaaaahhh”. One can only imagine the kind of wandering tribes who encountered the Slavs around this time, started speaking their language with a weird nasal accent like Pee-Wee Herman! But the Slavs liked the cut of their job, and so everybody started talking that way.

      Maybe a couple hundred years or so later, the nasal sound /ę/ morphed to /a/ in Russian (hence z’at’), but /e/ in Serbian, hence /zet/.
      And that is how Proto-Indo-European /*g’enKH-t/ became Russian /z’at’/ and Serbian /zet/.

      Moral of the story: Beware traveling Frenchmen speaking with a funny accent!


      • Australian lady says:

        Dear yalensis
        “But the Slavs liked the cut of their job, and so everybody started talking that way”.
        As a sailor, I’m obliged to correct you, though pardon me if it’s a typo.
        I reckon you mean “the cut of their jib”.
        One’s general appearance or personality, as in “I don’t like the cut of Ben’s jib”.
        In the17century the shape of the jib sail often identified a vessel’s nationality and hence whether it was hostile or friendly, the term being used figuratively by the early 1800s to express like or dislike for someone.
        That said, I think you’ve used this expression very effectively.


        • MrDomingo says:

          I think Yalenis misspelled term jib (sail) in that quoted sentence..


        • yalensis says:

          Oi, I make so many typing mistakes recently, I have to be more careful! Yes, of course it is “cut of the jib”, thanks!
          And that is very interesting about the sailor term and what it actually means, re. the jib sail, etc. I have used this term before without knowing the backstory.


          • MrDomingo says:

            If you have not looked up the history, in times past different countries had a different shape for their jib, so they would be wary of some ships based on style of that triangular sail while for others, they would be more comfortable, hence the term “like the the cut of your jib”. BTW, I seem to like following various YouTube channels that work on building or restoring ships. Primary examples are “Sampson Boat Co” and “Acorn to Arabella” but there are many others. Lots of hard work.


      • MrDomingo says:

        Yes, Zet is “son-in-law” in Serbian and other countries in Balkans.


  5. Dou Gen says:

    Hi Yalensis. When you write “reckon,” do you mean “think: assume”? If so, are you writing British English? In most of the US “reckon” mainly means “to calculate.” My father was from Georgia (in the US), while I grew up in the north, but when I would go with my parents to visit my grandparents in Georgia, they would usually say “I reckon” when they meant “I think,” and all their neighbors did, too. The US deep south has preserved the British sense of “to reckon” meaning “to think.” So I’m wondering whether I should read you as “speaking” British English or whether I should imagine you speaking with a US-styIe “southern accent,” which may be a little stronger in Georgia than in Texas, I’m not sure.

    Also, are you saying that many Russian women (or men, too?) like to make a lot of noise and party in public? A couple of years ago, I saw a travelog video in which a traveler/video-maker visits the DPR in Donbass. At one point he gets on a local semi-rural bus and keeps his video camera on. As soon as the bus starts moving and heads for the next town, a man near the front lifts up his accordion and begins energetically playing a lively folk(?) tune. Almost all of the other passengers (about 20) quickly begin singing in loud voices and clapping their hands. The driver doesn’t seem to mind, and he doesn’t ask them to be quiet. This was quite impressive. Is this a trait of most of Russian culture? Of Russian women? In Japan people like to sing and clap, but only in private, except at the time of the cherry blossoms, when everything is permitted. Never on JAL or ANA, however. In south Korea, on the other hand, women like to travel in groups. They even hire special long-distance buses with an open space in the back. Once the bus is underway to the place they are going to visit, they stand up, turn on a CD player or whatever, and go to the back of the bus, where they begin dancing to traditional folk melodies or even pop numbers. When I visited south Korea, I witnessed several such buses. Do they have special buses like this in Russia? Are DPR Russians special?


    • yalensis says:

      Hi, Dou Gen,
      I don’t speak British English. Didn’t really think about how it’s normal for me to say “I reckon” when I mean to say, “I think” or “I believe”, or “I guess.”

      Let’s just stipulate that I can do a damned good ‘Murican southern accent when I feel in the mood! I’m also influenced by jive, because I live sort of near the ghetto, and I start talking like my neighbors sometimes.


    • yalensis says:

      Regarding Russians singing and stuff in public, that happens sometimes. People like to be sociable and party hearty. l’m not sure that was what was going on in that plane, however, I got the impression from reading the story, it was just a small and rowdy group, who drank too much champagne and annoyed the other passengers.


  6. andrusha says:

    Sorry to correct, but “son in law ” example should be “husband of my dughter” not son of your daughter


  7. There’s an interesting hypothesis I saw going around that Wagner was tipped off by the Elensky regime where Zaluzhny was so that they could take him out. (Prigozhin made a video saying they don’t know where he is now but they did early in May and “conducted certain tasks”). It’s implied that this was Elensky’s way of eliminating Zaluzhny who would at this point be a replacement acceptable to America as Ukraine dictator instead of Elensky.

    And of course Zaluzhny’s a publicity hog who if anything should be more visible now. He should now be posting photos pointing dramatically at maps on a table with captions like “the indefatigable Ukrainian army chief General Zaluzhny planning the counteroffensive aimed at crushing the Russian invaders.” Why isn’t he?


    • Australian lady says:

      Thanks Fiendly N. T. That is the first time I’ve heard of this fiendish take on the non appearance of General Zaluzhny. Diabolical!


      • MrDomingo says:

        If so, it may explain why Zelensky would rather be some place else rather than in Kiev. Rumour is that Zaluzny is alive but maybe he now has a grudge.


        • yalensis says:

          Especially if he really did lose both his legs in the air stirke. Then the Americans will rebuild him with bionic legs that double as rockets. So, he could become like Iron Man and vow revenge against those who betrayed him. Zaluzhny’s hatred will be compounded by the fact that he actually is an old-school Nazi, and Zelensky is … well, you know…


          • MrDomingo says:

            Was the “6 Million dollar man” not part of your TV experience? Maybe in those times (80’s?) 6 Million seemed a good sum to rebuild a badly damaged human but nowadays that would not get you much.


            • yalensis says:

              To be honest, I never saw any episodes of that TV show, but I know exactly which show you are talking about, I have a general knowledge of the plot, just from cultural references and memes. And yes, a million dollars would not go very far by today’s standards. It wouldn’t buy a whole man, maybe just one of his toes, LOL!


    • JMF says:

      Especially for you, FNT! Upon reading RT today, I was instantly reminded of Raghead the Fiendly Terrorist’s Wagner Ferris wheel episode. In the article cited below, what to my wondering eyes should appear but a magnificent image of that gallant wheel, still proudly standing.

      I do notice that the Ukro-Nazis shot up the top of the wheel — but *only* the top — a bit following our heroes’ decisive assault. Apparently, the “defenders” were too dumb to realize that wheels actually go “awound and awound and awound”!-:)


      SOURCE: “Inside the ‘Bakhmut meat grinder’: How Russia forced Ukrainians to retreat from Artyomovsk, their supposed ‘fortress’ in Donbass”

      Liked by 1 person

  8. Several things:

    For your amusement, I’d like to pass on what the pro-Ukie side is thinking (if comments on that Balloon-Juice blog are typical of that in-denial mindset, and I think they are, which is why I check that site out). This is what the alternate-universe types believe —

    Bakhmut has NOT fallen, because there are Ukrainian soldiers still alive in some small corner of the place! If Prigozhin had REALLY achieved victory, he would not have needed to pose for a picture with security guards around him! So many Wagner fighters have died amongst the 20,000 KIAs they have suffered that regular army troops have had to replace them, hence the Wagner pullback! And when those untrained troops rotate in, that’s when the Ukrainians can pounce and re-take the city! The Russians are in deep trouble, because the Ukrainians are advancing on the city’s flanks and will encircle the orcs in a cauldron!

    It’s not just yappers in the peanut gallery are saying that. The B-J blogger, who’s one of their “front-pager” writers who’s allowed to post prominently, included Tweets from various sources, somebody in America’s opinion column and today (Monday Australia time, Sunday where the B-J blog originates from in the U.S.) an announcement from Ukie Gen. Syrsky that they are still fighting in Bakhmut, with plans to surround the whole place. (Nothing from everybody’s favourite potato-headed Nazi commander Zaluzhny — hmm…)

    I believe your assessment of the situation is reality-based, of course. It never ceases to amaze me that people sincerely believe the opposite, in the face of all the facts. The human mind’s capacity for delusional rationalisations is fascinating to observe, which is part of the reason why I liked working in psychiatric wards.

    Small thing — the chequered pattern on the Gruzian police uniforms is the same as what coppers have here (which imitates British unis.) Odd, that. As is the English word “Police” on their kit.

    Finally, I had lunch at a Gruzian restaurant last week, which I never would have done except for following so much Eastern European war coverage for the past year. Menu has Greek/Macedonian touches with Turkish and Russian elements too. I like food from different ethnicities. Had never seen a Georgian place before, though. The suburb where it’s located is in the zone where much of greater Melbourne’s Jewish population resides. I pass through there occasionally because my optometrist (who’s of Russian Jewish ancestry) is near there. Lots of Israeli restos (Aussie slang for “restaurant”), falafel joints, a Russian place, one Hungarian eatery… Food here is so good!


    • yalensis says:

      Mmmmm, that Gruzian food on the menu looks so good!

      Anyhow, I read much the same denials and talking points yesterday in some of the pro-Ukr commentariat. They console themselves how easy it was to take Kherson back, and that Bakhmut will be just as easy. They are still dining out on the Kharkov/Kherson victories, even though things have changed quite a lot, on the Russian side, since those particular fiascos. For starters, the Russian army finally has its sh*t together.

      Meanwhile, there is something that worries me a lot more than Bakhmut. Namely, If Helmer is right about the F-16s just being a camo for a NATO first strike against Russia, then the world may actually come to an end some time on or around June 12.

      Mark your calendars and hug your kids before then, if you have any! I tend to think those maniacs in Washington DC are actually gonna try this.


      • A foreboding Helmer, that one. I don’t read him all the time — mostly when he gets a shout-out in the “Links” section at Naked Capitalism. That’s a post they put up every day with hyperlinks that NC readers have suggested for news articles, Tweets, blog posts, etc. which might be of interest. It’s one way I broaden my reading perspective instead of just going to my usual suspects. (The latter would be intellectual laziness.) BTW, AA pops up there from time to time. Someone who uses the nym “guurst” seems to read your blog and tout it to NC. (The NC mods mention who has given the tip-off for each of the links they choose to include.)

        Helmer gets too wordy (like me! heh-heh) and is too wrapped up in writing about his own dramas (again, like…) I don’t discount his thesis completely, but I recall that he’s been overblown in other predictions about the war. Still, it’s ominous that in the midst of a hot war, the Westies are going to have a flying circus right on the edge of the killing zone. I had no idea NATO was planning something so provocative. It’s like if there was a bar fight where a big guy who ran a martial arts dojo was pounding the shit out of a punk who had been feeling the tits of the big guy’s girlfriend, and a bunch of out-of-shape 40-somethings started prancing around the dance floor showing off karate moves that they copied from old Bruce Lee movies. The big guy just might have a set of nunchuks in his back pocket and decide to break some bones on the 40-somethings if they got in the zone where he was stomping the perv. Then people pull out gunz (because this imaginary scenario takes place in Amerika, where EVERYBODY is packing) and the round-robin slaughter begins…

        Could the Westies be as stoopit as Helmer suggests? Even if it does play out the way he suggests, what would happen? A one-off flight of jets — say there’s 6, or 12 — I doubt they’d be able to send off many more — that streaks into Crimea and/or the Donbas. They shoot some missiles, drop some bombs. Bad news for Russia. Things get blown up, people die. The naval base at Sevastopol gets hurt. But one strike mission is not going to totally reverse the course of a war. Not all of those F-16s are going to make it back. It’s not as if Russians are going to take the week off work when a NATO military exercise is going on. If the F-16s go back to land at airfields in Romania or Poland, after blasting territory the Russians control, they’re going to be followed by Kalibers or Kinzhals. And there would be air-to-air missiles shooting down the AWACS and re-fueling planes that the F-16s used to get home. (Coz those things have limited range just using their own radar and gas tanks.) Then it would be ON like Godzilla-Kong.

        As ignorant as the political people in the West are, I don’t think they’re suicidal. They’d know that a move like Helmer suggests would result in massive shit for minimal wiping(out). The military people would be less inclined to die for a one-punch trick. Can they get 6 or 12 pilots (who are smart and highly trained, not a bunch of dumb-grunt enlisted soldiers) to sign on for a kamikaze mission? As Helmer says, they’d have to be Westies flying the jets, not Ukrainians, because there’s not enough time to train the Ukes to do much more than “how do I turn this thing on again?”

        NATO major: “You there — Garcia, Trevorson, Wojokowski, Kausinakis, Vitalichuk, Andrescu — you’re going on a mission into the teeth of some of the world’s most lethal air defences and you probably won’t make it back, but it’s important that we give those commies a little slap in the face so they know we’re not pussies! Any questions? Next-of-kin still the same? You can’t tell them what you’re doing, but you might want to send a last message suggesting that they go on a trip to the mountains for the next couple of months. Tell ‘em to pack a lot of canned food.”

        (I think Wojo, Kausi and Vitali might still do it, because those PoleLithUks hatez them some Rooskies. Garcia, Trevs and Andres might decide to develop engine trouble because the deathinsanity doesn’t run quite so deep in the USUKRum…)

        So portion out your anxiety to more productive areas! BTW, I do have a child, who’s a third of a century old. She and her boyfriend live literally inside the Beltway (Maryland suburbs) so they’d be incinerated immediately if it comes to that. They pooh-pooh my overall alarmism, although they’ve come around to admitting it looks like I’m right about the environment, Peak Oil, American fascism and other things. They were here for a visit in November and the topic of the war slid right by the one time I referred to it. (My daughter likes tattoos; we drove all the way to Adelaide so
        she could get a garish one from a tatt artiste she likes, and I had sent her a link to a story with many photos of the Nazi ink on captured Azov goons.)
        She’s had a great privileged white-person’s life and there’s nothing I can do to control her chosen path through it, so I just have to adopt the Arab attitude of “inshallah”.


        • yalensis says:

          Thank you for trying to calm my anxiety, Bukko. Unfortunately, it isn’t working! Because when I see just how stupid and vicious the Americans are, yes, I think they would take such a colossal risk.
          Also, in Helmer’s scenario, the F-16’s are just decoys, the main work will be done by more modern jets, and they will go for a decapitation strike against the Kremlin and the Russian nuclear arsenal.

          I do like your “movie treatment” though with the diverse cast of Garcia, Wojiechowski, and the others. Make sure there is a wise-talking black guy as well. These misfits will be the “suicide squad” of decoys. Then the White Man, Tom Cruise will step in, for the real stuff…

          Regarding your daughter, she sounds like a real pill, although I am sure you love her anyhow. Even if you can’t hug her, you could perhaps email her on that day (the last day of the human race), with some kind of message like “I love you, whatever your name is, even though you are a pill! Love, Dad.”


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