There’s no way to consider Russia anything but a terrorist nation. More than its unprovoked war of aggression against Ukraine, its indiscriminate targeting of civilians is textbook terrorism. Russia doesn’t even hide it—Russia is demanding negotiations to freeze the conflict in exchange for stopping its terror campaign against civilian targets.
The European Union has finally responded.
The United States has refused to follow along for complicated legal and diplomatic reasons. A terror designation, under U.S. law, would mean anyone doing business with Russia would be subject to U.S. sanctions. That would include … Europe. While trade has been severely curtailed between Russia and Western nations, there are still goods excluded from the current sanction regime. An American terror designation wouldn’t account for those exceptions, hence Joe Biden’s caution. Europe isn’t operating under such stringent legal requirements.
Regardless, Russia is furious. Why, how could anyone accuse it of terrorism? So, in a very Russian fashion, it decided to respond with more terror, launching 70 cruise missiles and an untold number of suicide drones against Ukraine’s electrical and thermal grid, plunging Ukraine into darkness.
It’s noteworthy that Ukraine didn’t mention the number of suicide drones launched by Russia. It’s likely the intercept rate of those drones wasn’t as great as that of the cruise missiles, which modern anti-aircraft systems are designed to interdict and destroy. It is in that context that today’s Pentagon announcement of new aid made perfect sense: “150 heavy machine guns with thermal imagery sights to counter Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS).” Those suicide drones are slow and low-flying, with tiny radar profiles. Mount these machine guns on pickup trucks, and they can chase after the slow-moving loitering drones.
Meanwhile, Russia thinks Ukrainians will rise up against the Ukrainian government because of the cold and the dark. But this is how Ukrainians respond:
Some Russians are daring to utter this, even in Russian state propaganda channels:
Note the one panelist around the 2:30 mark who says that “it’s obscene, it’s not constructive, it’s criminal to bomb peaceful cities.” He notes that bombing peaceful cities has never led to a people surrendering in war. Hiroshima and Nagasaki might have something to say about that, but that’s the exception that proves the rule.
This is another remarkable moment, unfortunately related to my Japanese example above:
Note the panelist laughing at the idea that Kherson and the Donbas are Russian territories: “It wasn’t our territory until we declared it as ours.” He also laughs off the notion that Russia is at war with NATO. We all know that if that were true, this war would have been over, and quickly. But this is not the kind of pushback that Russians are used to seeing.
As I publish this, Ukraine announces power is mostly restored:
Still, each attack makes Ukraine’s grid that much less resilient, likely held together by duct tape, gum, and some MacGyver ingenuity. Russia’s rocket and missile fleet remains substantial, even if today’s missile barrage cost them more than $100 million.
Today’s reminder of why MAGA loves Russia so much.
It’s all the fault of the women-folk, of course...
Russian mobilization is going so well:
Don’t feel too sorry for them. They still want to fight! I’m sure they’ll get the chance to be human speed bumps to the Ukrainian advance. And I say that with zero relish. I’m tired of senseless death. I’d rather they sneak back to Russia since it’s clear no one knows who or where they are, or even cares about it. Likely no one would notice if they simply went home and told the local authorities they’d been properly released.
This is the alternative:
I truly do wonder if anyone actually believes this idea that Russia is genuinely threatened. No one wants Russia and its corruption. They have all that empty land mass already—develop that! If they only minded their own business, everyone could go happily on their merry way.
Yesterday, I wrote about the Turkish TRLG-230 MLRS making an appearance in Ukraine, with its 150 km range—doubling Ukraine’s reach from typical HIMARS/MLRS rockets. Now we have video:
That’s the good news. The less-good news is that ammunition supplies are reportedly limited.
Ukraine will have to be judicious about how it uses those rockets, and I do wish that this wasn’t reported publicly. It would be better for Russia to think Ukraine had hundreds of rockets, further motivating it to push its supply depots farther back. With limited supply, Russia may simply decide to absorb some losses in order to benefit from the logistical advantages of the current setup.
On the other hand, those “dozens” of rockets might simply be the initial shipment, with more coming down the pike.
And, in case you're wondering what the difference is between a rocket and a missile: A missile is guided and can change trajectory during flight, while a rocket depends on the angle of the launch tube and the amount of propellant. Obviously, guided GMLRS rockets and these Turkish ones blur the distinction, but they still require the proper launch angle and merely tweak their flight trajectory to hit the designated target (via GPS for GMLRS, and laser designation for these Turkish ones). You wouldn’t launch these straight up in the air and expect them to hit their targets, and you certainly wouldn’t expect them to change targets mid-flight.
There’s a Telegram account that consists of nothing other than pictures and videos of dead Russian soldiers. The images out of Bakhmut and Pavlivka, were Russian forces keep sending wave after wave of infantry, were so bad I finally left that Telegram group. I’ve seen enough mass carnage to last a lifetime. But I also fear that people think Mark Sumner and I are exaggerating when we talk about those mass Russian casualties. So here is a tweet showing some of those images, not the worst by a long shot, but a hint of what Russia is doing to its own people. I promise you, there's no exaggeration.
The latest trend is for Russians to dig random holes in the middle of fields and huddle together for safety or warmth or to more easily share their vodka as Ukrainian drones drop grenades on top of them. Here’s an example, and again, click at your own discretion. It’s f’n brutal. Their lethargy might be alcohol, sure, but could very well be hypothermia.
On the diplomatic front, the Collective Security Treaty Organization—Russia’s answer to NATO—had a meeting.
As you might recall, Armenia begged for CSTO assistance when it was recently invaded by Azerbaijan and got only crickets in response. With the West cozying up to Armenia (Nancy Pelosi visited recently), its days in the CSTO are likely limited.
Meanwhile, Kazakhstan is pretty much done with Russia, and China has wrapped an embracing arm around the country, literally threatening Putin to stay out of China’s internal affairs. With Turkey increasing its own aggression in the region, it seems every regional player is interested in increasing its influence in the Middle East and Central Asia at Russia’s expense. Nature, after all, abhors a vacuum.
No thanks. And if you want to know why not, this thread covers it well:
By all indications, Russia has wiped the air over Ukraine clean of TB-2 Bayraktar drones. In fact, they may have been wiped out much earlier in the war than previously indicated, as Russia didn’t really engage its air defense systems until weeks after the invasion began. And despite all its failures, the one thing that seems to be working for Russia is its air defenses. That is also the reason, incidentally, that Russia’s Air Force is inoperable in this war—Ukraine also has Russian-built air defenses. There’s a reason Russia has shifted to killer drones instead of committing its modern warcraft to the battlefield.
Remember, NATO’s war-fighting doctrine depends heavily on air power. So it’s only natural that Russia would expend considerable resources in countering that threat. This means, ultimately, that Ukraine’s allies are better off bolstering Ukraine’s ground forces and anti-drone capabilities than they are investing in expensive (financially and logistically) aircraft with limited ability to impact the outcome of the war.