24 February 2022

Reacting to the attack on Ukraine (updated)

Putin has now launched a full-on attack against Ukraine, including cross-border shelling, missile attacks on cities all over the country, an amphibious landing near Odesa, and apparently armored vehicles crossing the border.  At least several dozen Ukrainian civilians and military personnel have been killed.  Ukraine claims to have shot down several Russian warplanes; Russia denies this.  The mood in Ukraine appears to be defiant.  Here's an overview of the situation at the moment; here's a Ukrainian news site which carries frequent updates in English.

As for Western reactions to the attack, I'm seeing essentially nothing except economic sanctions, which should certainly be imposed but which have about as much chance of stopping this aggression as wishing upon a star does, and forceful rhetoric from politicians, which has absolutely zero chance of doing anything whatsoever.  The two economic steps generally said to be most impactful are stopping the Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline, which Germany has already done, and cutting Russia off from the SWIFT international payments system, which the US is already backing down on doing.

The only response likely to be truly effective is sending the Ukrainians as many weapons as we can (sending any Western troops to fight in Ukraine is, rightly, off the table).  UK prime minister Boris Johnson announced an increase in military aid to Ukraine just before the actual attack began, and Mitch McConnell called for more military aid two days ago.  I haven't seen any official announcements on the subject since the start of the attack, but it's only been a few hours at this point.

We need to face reality, however much it may distress some people.  The only measures that will actually help in this situation are those which maximize the killing of Russian soldiers.  Putin is not going to back down and pull his troops out because a bunch of banks get their assets frozen.  The only thing that will get the Russians out of Ukraine is what got the Soviets out of Afghanistan and the Americans out of Vietnam -- unacceptable casualties with no hope of the situation improving over time.  And yes, as in Afghanistan and Vietnam, this is likely to involve a long conflict, perhaps more a guerilla resistance to occupation than conventional warfare.  In this connection, the Ukrainian government recently took steps to loosen the country's strict gun-control laws and make it easier for civilians to obtain firearms.  It remains to be seen whether there is still time for large numbers of Ukrainians to arm themselves in preparation for guerilla warfare.  The West must prepare to provide help to resistance fighters, possibly for years, as we did with the resistance in countries under Nazi occupation during World War II.

For make no mistake -- if Putin conquers Ukraine and gets away with it, with no penalty except a bunch of economic sanctions, that's going to look pretty good to him, and he'll feel emboldened to commit further aggression in the future.  This reckless and delusional man has made the stakes clear.  Now the Ukrainians, with our aid, must force him to face reality.

UpdatesNumerous brief videos here of scenes from the war.

The Russian stock market has crashed.

Detailed hour-by-hour live updates here.  It appears that the Ukrainian military is fighting back fiercely.


Blogger W. Hackwhacker said...

Good summation. Putin might be willing to have thousands of Russians return in body bags -- because he's a sociopath -- or his economy shrivel even further, but some around him may not be so willing over time. That's a faint hope, but otherwise I don't see many constraints on the little dictator.

24 February, 2022 05:09  
Blogger Sixpence Notthewiser said...

Vlad is a megalomaniac sociopath.
He's doing this because he can. And because all his money is outside of Russia.


24 February, 2022 08:42  
Blogger Mike said...

I would suggest giving the Ukrainians some MOABs but Russia has FOABs.

24 February, 2022 08:43  
Blogger NickM said...

I think he's more of a malignant narcissist Sixpence...

Let's just put some Polonium-210 in his botox.

24 February, 2022 11:09  
Blogger yellowdoggranny said...

thanks for news spots. I'm freaking out worrying about Allen and Tanya and their family.

24 February, 2022 11:11  
Blogger SickoRicko said...

I'm afraid this is not going to end well. Putin doesn't give a rat's ass what the West does to him economically.

24 February, 2022 12:00  
Blogger jenny_o said...

I appreciate your post on this. Puts "freedoms" into perspective, doesn't it? (vis-a-vis the protests in Canada recently)

24 February, 2022 16:25  
Blogger Jack said...

I thought we could use a brief laugh amidst all this dire news, so let me share the following. A few minutes ago, I saw an American on Twitter saying that she wanted to help Ukraine by placing an "I support Ukraine" sign in her yard. She was angrily demanding that someone provide her with a yard sign for this purpose. My only thought was, "Yeah, that will show Putin!"

24 February, 2022 16:38  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

W Hackwhacker: Thanks. I've heard that about 1,700 people have been arrested in Russia for protesting against the war. Not yet enough to make a dent in policy, but if the war gets bloodier, hopefully protests will increase.

Sixpence: If most of Putin's money is outside Russia, then the West needs to find it and freeze or seize it.

Mike: MOABs wouldn't be very useful to the Ukrainians since they need airplanes to deploy. But Russia isn't going to use nuclear weapons in Ukraine any more than we did in Vietnam or the Soviets did in Afghanistan.

NickM: I haven't heard that Putin is mentally ill. I have heard that he essentially lives in a bunker surrounded by yes-men, which is probably more dangerous.

24 February, 2022 20:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Granny: Glad to help. The Kyiv Independent live updates page is the best source I've seen for news on the war. Detailed information from every part of the country, and zero American-domestic-politics bullshit.

Ricko: We'll see. The Ukrainians are fighting hard and often effectively, and the military aid we sent earlier is helping (that Russian tank column destroyed near Kharkiv was destroyed with American-supplied missiles, for example). Putin won't be deterred by sanctions, but he may already be finding Ukraine tougher than expected.

Jenny_o: The Ukrainians understand lack of freedom -- until 1991, they didn't have any. They'd laugh at people saying mask mandates are "tyranny".

Jack: Yeah, that will show him. I've never understood what people think political lawn signs accomplish. She'd do better to join a protest outside the local Russian consulate. The Russians at least notice those.

24 February, 2022 20:26  
Blogger CAS said...

Such troubling times. Thanks for the link to the newspaper in Kyiv.

24 February, 2022 23:31  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

It's very disquieting.

The Kyiv Independent is a valuable resource for the latest developments.

25 February, 2022 01:11  
Blogger NickM said...

Lives in a bunker surrounded by yes men...

That seems oddly familiar.

25 February, 2022 07:19  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Too bad the Red Army won't be playing the same role this time.

25 February, 2022 07:23  

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