- Part 1 of this loose series : Does Anyone Remember? Or Think? Or Understand?
- Part 2 (you are here): More Ukraine
- Part 3 : Yes This is a War - In All But the Shooting
Yesterday I looked at how a lot of the disbelief in Russia's actions appears to be based in an inability to believe what they've said, and this appears grounded in postmodern thought - that there are no actual principles or truth - post-historic though in that the liberal world order has won and what is this concept of territorial sovreignty and security (?), and an inability to recognize provocations or understand that violence is justified at times.
This also explains why in large part, even without factoring in the massive propaganda campaign supporting Ukraine, Russia's statements of intent fell flat. Leaving aside "it's all self-justifying lies for a thug", the de-nazification plan is treated as some middle schooler tantrum than a serious goal or belief, even by people who otherwise beliefI Russia is in the right. This despite the fact that it is both apparently a goal and rhetoric aimed at the progressive bugaboo of 'nazis."
I have repeatedly been assured that Neo-nazis can't be a large part of Ukranian politics, by people who ignore how many years we didn't ship Ukie forces weapons for just that reason, or the fact that Facebook banned promotion or praise of the Azov battalion for those same nonexistent reasons until they decided to allow praise of them fighting the Russians.
I am assured that hard right factions can't have major influence, because "Ze" is a jew. Ditto the Azov boys being hard right, because the leadership is Jewish. Wikipedia actually treads a line here - admitting the symbology is prevalent, and that even the officials of these organizations have admitted that 10-20% of their recruits are white supremacist. Then it does everything it can to find excuses and to minimize it.
Oddly, I actually don't care whether or not they're labeled, but they are the closest thing you'll find to the Hollywood stereotype of a neo-nazi outside of a cardboard cutout in a movie. At this point I consider reports they are using the russian inhabitants of East Ukraine, and foreigners as human shields and setting them up for casualties and PR visuals of dead civilians instead of letting them evacuate as reliable. Ditto videos of them hauling people out of cars and gunning them down.
As to the acceptance of Azov, etc., I doubt the ADL would be so sanguine about a few battalions of private militia with armor and artillery marching around with open Nazi symbology and sympathies, that operates with the tacit consent of the US government to invest and shell Miami and southern Californian cities to drive out those spanish speakers.
One of the funnier moments was not so much realizing the so-called Ghost of Kiev" was a fake, or that Snopes/etc. weren't going to call it false, but that a US politician fell for a Sam Hyde meme.
We keep hearing the Russians are bogged down and not going anywhere. Sure, they've regrouped, but that's after a week where they've covered a stunning amount of ground the equal of any first-world lightning war anywhere.
We heard about a brave last stand at Snake Island. I'm sure a few mothers and wives are relieved that those men didn't fight to the last, and won't require a posthumous reward for valor.
Regarding the Russian troops being poorly trained, targeting civilians, and so on:
They may not be the best that Russia has, but they already met a bar few armies could match. I doubt the honesty of POWs paraded in front of a camera talking of how they were told this was just an excercise, and they don't know why they were here, and morale was poor. I also doubt the veracity of the text messages supposedly from a captured soldier, but if that is what the soldier wrote, that's the impression he got.
Being told this was just an exercise is not "another example of Putin's lies", but covered under two words anyone in the military should be familiar with : operational security.
As to targeting civilians: sure, hear what that ambassador, and the talking heads have to say. They pay attention to the video they show of people blocking tanks with their bodies, and listen to the reports of "how many" were killed. With Russian casualties supposedly in the tens of thousands - we never hear of the Ukrainians - somehow only a few hundred civilians had died the last time I paid attention. For most of the cities, despite reports of shelling, the power and utilities are still functioning.
In short, turn down the volume and you can see that the Russians are doing anything but targeting civilians, or tearing everything apart indiscriminately. Yes, even that nuclear plant. Not the first they'd captured, but suddenly they're shelling the plant for no reason at all whatsoever except Russians are bad.
Given the change from their behavior everywhere else regarding infrastructure, I was sure that there had to be something going on - like return fire. The Russian leadership is not aiming for another Chernobyl, and if they were, already had plenty of chances.
Laws of War
I've heard a lot of hay made about their use of cluster bombs and other violations of the "laws of war."
Leaving aside the nonsense that militaries will stop using weapons that actually work, and that many of the so called Geneva convention restrictions were never signed by a number of nations, including the US, so half the time when someone screams about "x is being used" , when I asked things like "what did they hit" and "were there military or communications facilities?", I don't get anyone telling me they were strictly civilian, despite the implications. Again, the total number of civilian casualties claimed by the Ukranians is extremely low, given how easily the Russians could blow them away in many of the images.
I'll grant that woman who put sunflower seeds in a soldier's pocket guts, but not wisdom. If the soldiers she had been shaming were the monsters advertised, she'd have been dead.
For that matter, let's talk actual war crimes. Never mind that handing out military weapons to a bunch of civilians stinks more of desperation than victory, there is a term for those who engage in combat with military units without some form of uniform, or at least uniform markings: unlawful combatant.
Those assholes in a car throwing a molotov at an APC as they drove by? Yup. And handing the Russians an excuse to blow away any vehicle approaching a convoy.
Which, again, for an army supposedly targeting civilians, they haven't.
You don't have to believe the Russians - just look at the very video the Ukies are releasing to bolster their claims.