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BeyondGeography's Journal
BeyondGeography's Journal
March 31, 2022

Born under Putin, died for Putin

David Arutyunyan was born in March 2003 in Kyakhta, near Russia’s border with Mongolia. He was conscripted to the army and served in Pskov, the headquarters of the elite paratroopers.

In March 2022 in the Donbas region of eastern Ukraine, the 18-year-old’s convoy was hit by artillery fire and he died as he pulled a wounded comrade from their armoured vehicle. Arutyunyan was hit by shrapnel as he carried his friend to safety, according to official Russian reports. He staggered on and got the other soldier to shelter but succumbed to his wounds. He was awarded the Order of Courage posthumously.

The youngest Russian soldier to be publicly identified as having been killed in Ukraine, Arutyunyan’s death has come to symbolise President Putin’s faltering invasion and how it is founded on young, poorly trained conscripts. Growing numbers of Russian troops — both soldiers and commanders — are refusing to fight.

…As the war grinds on, the Ukrainians claim that the psychological state of the Russian troops and their level of motivation appears to be deteriorating. In its latest update published today, the armed forces revealed that two platoon commanders were discharged from their positions after refusing to carry out orders. It said the commanders from the 60th Separate Motorised Infantry Brigade of the 5th Combined Arms Army of the eastern military district were relieved due to “non-fulfilment of the order to conduct the hostilities”.

More at https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/dc7e72e4-b0f4-11ec-8570-b43daaf58ea1?shareToken=8034f952f6d363056c68fe93f055eebe
March 31, 2022

"What about the Nazis then? Are we no longer fighting them?"

Putin wound up his people with lies about Ukraine. He raised the stakes based on bullshit, now he’s struggling to find a way out.

The Russian leader has still not made a final decision on what he’s going to do next, and plenty of those close to him are reportedly pressuring him to go full steam ahead with the onslaught against Ukraine.

But the presidential administration is said to be concerned about how “a possible truce with Ukraine will hit Putin’s [approval] ratings.”

“The citizens were riled up by propaganda. Suppose a decision is made to stop at the territory of the Donbas. What about the Nazis then? Are we no longer fighting them? This word has been hammered into people so much that I can’t imagine how one can stop in Donbas without losing approval ratings,” one source told Meduza.

March 30, 2022

Chernobyl employees: RU soldiers had no idea what the plant was and call their behavior 'suicidal'

Weeks after Russian soldiers took over the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in northern Ukraine, new reports reveal that the invading forces have engaged in reckless behavior at the facility beyond their initial shelling of it.

…Two of these employees have reportedly witnessed instances of rash and dangerous conduct by the Russians, according to Reuters, with one source calling their behavior “suicidal.” Some soldiers had reportedly never heard about the disaster that some historians believe signaled the beginning of the end for the Soviet Union.

…Shortly after the occupation started, Ukrainian officials warned that radiation levels at Chernobyl were rising due to a large number of heavy military machines disturbing the topsoil around the area. These reports have now been confirmed by employees working at Chernobyl around the time of the invasion who observed “a big convoy of military vehicles” driving straight through zones so contaminated with radiation that even trained safety workers at Chernobyl are not allowed to venture there.

…Russian armored vehicles without radiation protection were seen driving through an area called the “Red Forest,” an area of woods four square miles in size surrounding the power plant. The area absorbed so much radiation from the Chernobyl explosion that its trees turned a gingery brown color, giving the forest its nickname. It is considered one of the world’s most radioactive places. The employees said that the military vehicles kicked up a “big column of dust,” which may be what sent radiation levels soaring in the area following the invasion. The workers believed that breathing in that much radioactive dust could cause radiation poisoning, which can quickly turn lethal.

More at https://fortune.com/2022/03/29/chernobyl-ukraine-russian-soldiers-dangerous-radiation/

Also, see https://www.democraticunderground.com/100216545968
March 29, 2022

I lost my mother and my toes but I kept running


Bullets were still ripping into the car when Diana Yemelyanova rolled out and crawled to the grassy kerb. She saw her mother, Irina, hit in the stomach. “I wanted to bandage mum, so I lifted her jacket”, Yemelyanova, 20, told The Times. “And her whole side was torn up, her guts fell out. There was nothing to bandage.”

They tried to crawl to safety under a hail of fire, but Irina couldn’t make it. Reaching sparse cover by the side of the road, the student called back to her mother. “I love you very, very much,” Irina gasped in reply. Then she fell silent.

Yemelyanova’s husband, Oleksandr, grabbed his wife’s hand and dragged her away. Back in the car, his 15-year-old brother was lying motionless, blood running from his mouth and a fist-sized hole in his back. The family had run into three Russian tanks as they tried on March 9 to escape their home town of Chernihiv, a city of 285,000 people besieged by Kremlin forces since the start of the invasion more than a month ago. As one tank bore down on their shot-up vehicle, Yemelyanova and her husband had to sprint across an open field to escape. “I still don’t know how we broke away from them,” she said. “We must have been helped by areas of bog, some were waist-deep.”

Reaching the next field, she looked down at her foot and found she was missing two toes. Somehow, she kept going for three kilometres. “I was in shock, I don’t know how else to describe it.” They ran to the nearest Ukrainian position. “I didn’t feel the pain, it was like a dream. Only when I realised we were safe, it all hit me. It’s a catastrophe. I didn’t know and I still don’t know how to live without my mama”

… “Chernihiv was beautiful,” she said of her home town, which is more than 1,300 years old. Elaborate golden-domed monasteries and churches with green slate roofs, echoing with the song of Orthodox prayer, used to bring in thousands of tourists every year. “It’s a historic city, we have more than 15 churches and historical monuments.” Now it is being levelled. “Forty per cent of our houses have already been reduced to dust.”

March 27, 2022

Send in the swarm

The recent announcement that United States will send switchblade drones to Ukraine reflects the changing character of war and the importance of swarming. Swarming involves saturating a target with multiple small strikes as opposed to one decisive blow. By expanding arms transfers to include more capable swarming systems like the Israeli loitering munitions seen in Nagorno-Karabakh as well as new U.S. Marine capabilities like the Hero-120, the West can help Kyiv break the Russian sieges currently holding Ukrainian cities hostage.

Ukraine has already adapted tactical-level swarms to slow Russia’s advance. Similar to Finnish motti tactics, dispersed ambush teams attack Russian lines of communication to compound Moscow’s logistical challenges. In multiple instances, the Ukrainian armed forces have used drones to target artillery raids against Russian-seized airbases in Ukraine, including destroying as many as 30 vehicles and helicopters in Kherson.

Expanding the range and types of loitering munitions available to Ukraine will help them build on this success. The greatest threat to Ukraine right now is the ability of Russia to siege Ukrainian cities. The closer the Russian army gets to Kyiv, the more artillery and missile barrages it can fire on urban areas, putting pressure on Ukraine’s leaders to accept Russian demands. While surface-to-air missile transfers can help stop Russian aircraft and cruise missiles, they cannot stop artillery strikes. The same goes for anti-tank guided missiles, which perform the best ambushing convoys.

While the concept of swarming is as old as horse archers from ancient history, low-cost drones and persistent surveillance networks provide new technical means to the tactic. The result is an approach called mosaic that seeks to overwhelm adversaries short of a single, decisive battle.

More at https://www.csis.org/analysis/send-swarm
March 26, 2022

'It's Our Home Turf.' The Man On Ukraine's Digital Frontline

… Mykhailo Fedorov and Ukraine’s young entrepreneurial class are inventing a whole new way to fight a war online. Their relentless social media campaigns have flooded the Internet with constant updates on military and diplomatic successes, and helped them recruit an “IT Army” as well as foreign fighters. Having previously used Telegram during the 2019 Ukrainian presidential campaign, President Volodymyr Zelensky’s team has been able to rely on existing infrastructure when the messaging app turned into the main front in the information war. Fedorov’s ministry also set up a cryptocurrency fund that has raised more than $63 million worth of donations for the Ukrainian military.

“I think the future is with tech, and this is why we will win,” he said.

Wearing a gray turtleneck and white AirPods, he spoke to TIME on a video call from an undisclosed location somewhere near Kyiv. “Russia’s leadership still lives in the 20th century,” Fedorov said. “They have failed to notice that… governments must move towards becoming more and more like tech companies, rather than being rigid like a tank, like a war machine.”

…As the horrors of the war play out for the watching world online, Ukrainian officials say they intend to take and hold the “moral high ground” in the global battle for hearts and minds. Fedorov says he and his colleagues are vigilant for any disinformation from their own side that could break the trust and goodwill they have built up, putting teams and processes in place to verify the facts in all updates posted by Ukrainian officials. That emphasis on credibility, Fedorov says, is a “force multiplier.” “In a way, we are trying to protect our brand,” he says, wryly noting that he knows it sounds “peacetime-y” in this context. “Our brand as one of an honest nation and an honest people trying to tell the truth.”

Ukraine has long been on the receiving end of Russian disinformation campaigns and cyberattacks, so they were familiar with their tactics and were able to build some resilience, Fedorov says in his interview with TIME, which was conducted through a translator. Soon after the invasion, he called for the creation of what he called an “IT Army,” which has grown to over 300,000 volunteers—many from its vast network of tech company representatives and cybersecurity specialists—whom Ukrainian leaders coordinate to fight Russian intrusions through secure messaging groups…

More at https://time.com/6157308/its-our-home-turf-the-man-on-ukraines-digital-frontline/?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=social&utm_campaign=editorial&utm_term=world_&linkId=157311080

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