More to ignore, Book 63........

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine Update: Not enough? Here's the challenge of moving even four HIMARS
kos

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HIMARS rocket artillery, soon headed to a Ukrainian battlefield

I both love and hate Ukrainian aid announcements from the Pentagon. Here’s the latest:


  • High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems and ammunition;
  • Five counter-artillery radars;
  • Two air surveillance radars;
  • 1,000 Javelins and 50 Command Launch Units;
  • 6,000 anti-armor weapons;
  • 15,000 155mm artillery rounds;
  • Four Mi-17 helicopters;
  • 15 tactical vehicles;
  • Spare parts and equipment.

I love them because, hey, Ukraine is getting more of what they need to win this war. And the inclusion of HIMARS (more here) will mark a significant upgrade in Ukraine’s ability to beat back the Russian aggressors, just like Ukraine credits the M777 with helping it hold the line in the eastern Donbas front. This new aid package brings the US contribution to around $5.3 billion so far, with another $10.3 billion available as part of the recently passed aid package. So yes, this is exciting. So why do I also hate it?

Each announcement of aid, whether from the United States or any other ally, is inevitably accompanied by a chorus of wailing and complaining: it’s not enough, it’s too late, it’s taking too long, why won’t they do more, etc, etc, etc. Amazon has pre-conditioned people into thinking Ukraine could just order up whatever, and hey, there it is three days later with free shipping!

You might think, who cares that someone is wrong on the internet! (And to be clear, I don’t see it here, I see it in other social media outlets). It matters because such thinking is counter-productive, ignorant, and stupid, and betrays a lack of understanding of the actual situation.

First of all, Russia’s entire annual military budget is $60 billion, and that includes a large navy, tactical nukes, strategic air defenses, and other big-ticket budget items. The United States alone is on track to deliver 25% of that budget to Ukraine in a matter of months, with billions more donated by other partners. (Ukraine might even be close to actual parity given the amount of grift in the Russian armed forces.) The investment the U.S. and its allies have made in this war is massive and remains open-ended. Systems, supplies, ammunition, and parts are being delivered
daily. But people seem to forget all that other stuff, or don’t care. They see “$700 million” as if that was the sum total of war assistance. Same people will have the same reaction next week when the next tranche is announced.

Second of all, it’s not too late. This war isn’t going anywhere anytime soon. Do we wish Ukraine had all this stuff earlier? Sure! Even better would’ve been
before the war began! But no one knew how quickly the war would end. It wasn’t too long ago that the U.S. dumped billions of dollars in military equipment on a weak government. It was possible that Ukraine could’ve pulled an Afghanistan, and it wasn’t unreasonable to let the first few weeks play out. The initial tranche of weapons helped Ukraine survive the shock-and-awe of those first few days and weeks of war. Ukraine had to prove it was worthy of the investment, and it did. Harsh but true.

Next, logistical lines had to established, first by establishing a supply hub near the Ukrainian border (at Rzeszow, Poland), getting those supplies across the border (in a way that made it hard for Russia to interdict), and then distributing it to the front lines in wartime conditions. Nothing about logistics is easy, even in the most peaceful conditions, so the way the allies and Ukraine developed theirs on the fly and in a war zone will be a great book someday. So at the start, it was a challenging enough getting Javelins, rifles, helmets, and Stingers to the front lines, forget trying to move equipment and weapons weighing in the tons. All of that had to be scaled up. And in just three months, they have.

Take HIMARS. The vehicle weighs 18 tons. That’s a lot, sure. But the ammo is the real beast. An MLRS/HIMARS pod carries six missiles, and weights 2.5 tons. That’s a single volley, enough for just seconds of firing time, and each one weighs 2.5 tons.

There’s been no talk about support vehicles, but Ukraine will need HEMTTs to lug these pods. Lots of them, since the bottleneck to the HIMARS (and M270 MLRS donated by Germany and the U.K.) will be the ability to supply and transport these rocket pods.
Each truck can carry two pods, four if it has a trailer. So we’re talking 5-10 tons of rocket pods on a single truck, or enough for about 30 minutes of fire missions given HIMARs five-minute reload time. (Likely more, because the HIMARS will want to move to a new location to foil counter-battery efforts, but still, you get the point.)

A C-5 cargo plane can carry 140 tons of cargo, or 56 rocket pods—just 10-12 hours of fire missions for a single launcher. And those pods have to travel 1,200 kilometers (745 miles) from Rzeszow, Poland, to the edge of Ukrainian-occupied Donbas. That’s a serious challenge, almost impossible. Like the M113 armored personnel carriers on a ship somewhere in the Atlantic right now, this stuff will need to be shipped via ocean freight from the United States (backfilling German and UK stocks that can be delivered fastest).

And that’s just getting it to Poland. The pods would still need to be delivered by train closer to the front, and then delivered to the
HIMARS themselves. That was my job! Yes, I had to make sure everyone in my platoon had food, fuel, water, and maintenance supplies. But that was the easy part. Keeping our launchers loaded with rockets? That was the real challenge. And in our war gaming during peacetime, it was hard to launch more than a few fire missions per day. MLRS/HIMARS are the most logistically challenging weapons system in the U.S. arsenal for a reason.

Wartime makes things both harder, because someone is shooting back, but also easier, because a desperate army will do whatever needs to get done to get those pods to the front faster and more efficiently. But the only reason we’re even
talking about this now is because Ukraine has spent three months building, refining, and optimizing their supply lines. There’s no way they could've handled HIMARS in the early days of the war. It was hard enough to get troops (and especially their artillery) ammo.

So no, this shipment is not too late, and it won’t be too late when it finally hits the front in about a month. There’s no way this could’ve been delivered sooner, not without impacting the
other desperately needed supplies that have been flowing into Ukraine. It’s not as if everyone was sitting around for decisions to be made.

In addition to needing more weapons, an army’s ammunition consumption is frighteningly high. Equipping hundreds of thousands of reservists with body armor, helmets, and rifles is a real challenge. Don’t forget fuel. For three months, those supply shipments haven’t slowed a bit. We still have multiple cargo planes from the U.S., Canada, United Kingdom, Italy, and elsewhere landing at Rzeszow on a daily basis. This operation is massive, it’s ongoing, and it’s been running full-speed from before the start of the war. And those shipments have always reflected Ukraine’s biggest priorities. They’ve called the shots. There were other priorities earlier in the war, but it wasn’t only until recently that they were in a place to beg for MLRS.

Related, people are complaining that it’s taking too long to get these HIMARS to Ukraine. People think three weeks is too long. I can’t believe that they’ll get HIMARS to the front in three weeks! Or better yet, I can believe they can get the launcher there, but as noted, the real challenge is in the rocket pods. An empty launcher is useless. A launcher that fires 1-2 fire missions then sits around for a week waiting for the next ammo shipment is a little useful, but mostly useless. HIMARS and M270 MLRS will have the impact we want it to have only if it is accompanied by an endless stream of rocket pods.
That is what is going to take three weeks to set up, to establish those logistics.

Finally, there are those complaining that the four launchers announced is not enough. No matter what is announced, it’s not enough. When the Pentagon announced 18 M777 howitzers, the wails of “that’s it?” were deafening, when it was obvious that it was just the first shipment of many. To date, the U.S. has sent 108 M777s, and there’s nothing saying that more won’t be on their way in the months ahead. Once the proper logistics are established for HIMARS/MLRS, more will obviously arrive.


But again, note that the problem isn’t the number of launchers. Four HIMARS in the middle of Ukrainian held territory in the Donbas can more than cover the entire front so long as it is properly supplied.

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Heck, one HIMAR launcher could do so much damage given a steady diet of rocket pods.

So to sum all that up, the United States has done plenty, delivering what Ukraine has needed at every stage of the war, this
initial shipment is by itself an amazing contribution to the war effort, and the delivery timeline is a marvel of logistics.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ten Thousan Marbles

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In March and April of 2020, as the coronavirus spread and people isolated in their homes, a doctor in San Diego boasted that he had his hands on a “miracle cure,” according to prosecutors — hydroxychloroquine.

In mass-marketing emails from his business, Skinny Beach Med Spa, Jennings Ryan Staley said the drug was included in his coronavirus “treatment kits,” despite the medication becoming increasingly scarce. But Staley had a way of getting it, he later told an undercover federal agent. He planned to smuggle in a barrel of hydroxychloroquine powder with the help of a Chinese supplier, prosecutors said.

Staley was sentenced last week to 30 days in prison and a year of home confinement for the scheme. He pleaded guilty last year.

“At the height of the pandemic, before vaccines were available, this doctor sought to profit from patients’ fears,” U.S. Attorney Randy Grossman said in a news release. “He abused his position of trust and undermined the integrity of the entire medical profession.”........
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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We still don't know the truth about police inaction at Uvalde, but some facts don't change
Mark Sumner

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President Joe Biden and Dr. Jill Biden pay their respects at a memorial outside of Robb Elementary School in Uvalde, TX

The central story of what happened at Robb Elementary in Uvalde, Texas hasn’t really shifted: A single 18-year-old gunman entered the building on the morning of Tuesday, May 24. He then proceeded to kill 19 students and two teachers. But any detail beyond that most simple description of events runs headlong into “facts” that seem to have shifted multiple times since this mass shooting took place.

Just before the shooting began, the gunman crashed a pickup truck belonging to his grandmother into a ditch near the school. At first, reports had the gunman climbing out of the truck, exchanging gunfire with a school police officer, and entering the school through a side door. Then it was that the gunman approached a back door, was engaged by a school safety officer, but no shots were exchanged. Then there was no safety officer and the gunman entered through a door propped open by a teacher. Then the door was not propped open at all. The time between the crash and the gunman entering the classroom was 12 minutes. Or it was less than 5. Police came in response to reports of the crash. Or because of calls from the shooter’s grandmother. Or because of reports of shots fired.

All of that comes before the point that over a dozen police officers stood in the hallway outside a fourth grade classroom and listened to both gun shots and frantic 911 calls from the children dying behind that door.

..........
At this point, it seems possible to work out a somewhat more accurate timeline of what happened. The gunman crashed his truck, emerged, and waved his rifle at some onlookers who had approached the truck. He started walking toward the school, directing some bursts of gunfire toward observers around a nearby funeral home. Hearing that gunfire, a teacher knocked out a rock that had been propping open the school’s back door. But the door didn’t lock, and after climbing the fence, the shooter opened it and stepped inside. Five minutes is probably pretty close to right.

By now, we also know more about what came next. About how three police arrived just moments later, how two of them were reportedly “grazed” by shots from inside the classroom, and how an astounding number of police quickly gathered in the hallway, separated from the shooter by a single wooden door.

But there’s another set of facts that don’t change.

It was sunny and warm on Tuesday morning in Uvalde, so warm that someone did prop open that hallway to give the people inside the overheated school a little bit of air. The calendar might not yet say summer, but for the kids in the classrooms taught by Ms. Mireles and Ms. Garcia, it was
painfully close. There were only two full days of school remaining before Thursday brought a short day of ceremonies, certificates, and farewells. The tests were over. The grades were recorded. The teachers put on a video of the Disney movie “Lilo & Stitch” while they packed away materials in their classrooms. Like the kids, they were just counting the hours until this school year was in the rearview.

Already that morning, honor-roll students had been recognized, including Maite Rodriguez, who had dreams of being a marine biologist—dreams that her family encouraged. Her father drove her to school that morning, telling her how proud he was about Maite’s grades. She was that girl in the birthday picture with the shirt announcing she was finally “out of single digits.” She had big dreams.

It was going to be a good summer for Maite Rodriguez.

Jacklyn Cazares was one of the younger students in the class, still nine and still small. But she had a lot of friends in the room, including her cousin Annabelle Rodriguez. They were a chatty bunch, Jacklyn, and Annabelle, and their friends. They were probably talking during this movie they had all seen a dozen times before, in that warm classroom, at the tail end of fourth grade. Talking about all the things they were going to do and see over the coming months. Talking about what would happen next year when they would go to a whole new school.

It was going to be a good summer for Jacklyn and Annabelle. A good summer for them all.

Because they were ten, and summers were endless, and school was over, and there was an infinity of baseball fields, and swimming pools, and summer movies, and summer songs, and summer friends. Summer was there, right outside the window, waiting for them.

Nineteen of them never left that room.

Neither did teacher Irma Garcia, 48, or teacher Eva Mireles, 44. According to other teachers, those two stepped in front of other teachers and students to protect them when the gunman came in. Some of those kids are getting their summer because of Ms. Garcia and Ms. Mireles’ sacrifice. Though even for the kids who survived, this is a summer unlike any they ever imagined.

The story of what happened in the hour and a half between that truck crashing outside the school and the declaration that the shooter was down is still being revised. Some of that is just confusion. Some of it is shame; shame that the people who were paid to protect those kids stood outside a wooden door and listened as they died. Some of it is fear. Because right now, it certainly looks like there should be consequences for police inaction.

There has been some speculation that the 911 calls from kids inside the classroom never reached the officers outside that door. Maybe that’s true, though if so, it would represent an extraordinary failure.

But one of those 911 calls certainly reached police, because it came from one of the teachers, Eva Mireles, who was dying on one side of that door, to her husband Ruben Ruiz, who was on the other. Ruiz is a police officer. In fact, he’s the school safety officer who early reports falsely claimed had “engaged” the shooter before he entered the school.

What Mireles and her husband said from opposite sides of that door between life and death hasn’t been revealed. But the simple fact that she made this call, and that it came after the door was closed and Ruiz was present, destroys any idea that the police were unaware that there were survivors inside the classroom. One child in the classroom called 911 at least three times during the ordeal, and every time was told to wait … while officers were right on the other side of the door.

We don’t know why the police didn’t open that door. Though the contents of that phone call to Ruiz might certainly cast some light on what was being said and thought.

Beyond the evident police inaction, for many of us it’s impossible to comprehend the perversity that makes easy access to firearms more important than the lives of those kids. How anyone could love murder machines more than children. How hard they are fighting, not to make sure that this doesn’t happen again, but to make sure that it
does.

Maite Rodriguez might have figured out how to get micro plastics out of the ocean. Jacklyn Cazares might have run for governor. Any one of the kids in that classroom could have cured cancer, or been the first Latina president, or put the first bootprint on Mars. They didn’t get that.

They didn’t even get summer.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Russia pushes out from Lyman, but runs into a very familiar obstacle
Mark Sumner

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A woman takes a selfie with her son in front of a sign that translates 'I love Ukraine.' Kyiv. June 1, 2022.

The area east of the Izyum salient continues to be the zone of hottest contention, and on Thursday the pattern there hasn’t changed—Russia, having concentrated heavy forces in the area, is slowly grinding forward, capturing more villages, and moving closer to major targets like the cities of Slovyansk and Kramatorsk. There are heavy losses on both sides and continued reports that Russia is pushing Battalion Tactical Groups (BTGs) forward that are far below full strength, but so far the sheer numbers, and the punishment of Russian artillery, has been enough to keep Russia on the offensive.

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Russian forces pushing out from Lyman capture several small villages.

In the last 24 hours, Russia has expanded control of the area around the recently captured town of Lyman. This includes taking several outlying villages like Dibrova. It also places Russian-occupied territory within 10km of Slovyansk, with the town of Raihorodok next up on the Russian agenda. Russian sources are providing plenty of images meant to show that Ukrainian forces left behind a lot of equipment in the woods near Dibrova.



But there’s one thing about Russia’s next step on that road to Slovyansk that bears closer examination. Something that explains why it won’t be as simple as moving to those villages around Lyman. Here’s the area around Raihorodok in detail.

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Detail of area north of Raihorodok

If that twisty line in the middle of the image looks familiar, that’s the by now well-known Silverskyi Donets River. The area north of Raihorodok includes not just across the river itself, but on the other side of a marshy area of streams, meanders, oxbow lakes … everything not conducive to moving heavy equipment. These satellite images were taken in the winter, but right now the best word for that whole area, at the end of the rainy season and with summer coming on, is “swamp.”

But there’s more going on here than just getting across the bridge. See the little red Russian-occupied marker on the north side of the river? That’s the village of Staryi Karavan. It’s elevation is 73m (240 feet) above sea level. The area around Raihordok isn’t much higher … except for that white area on the map just above the highway and the current bridge. Those are the “Chalk Mountains.” They may not be mountains in most people’s book, but they do rise up about 130m (425 feet) above the surrounding terrain, giving them a commanding view and excellent firing position when looking down at the river valley below.

To get to Slovyansk, Russian forces still need to cross the Donets. Their best shot is probably in the area to the right of that highway into Raihorodok. But Russia still needs to clean up about half a dozen Ukrainian-controlled villages on the north side of the river, find or create a route through that swampy area to reach the river, then bridge the river—and they need to do it without a repeat of what happened when they tried to cross near Bilohorivka and lost the better part of three BTGs.

Don’t expect that last 10km to Slovyansk to come quickly.

In the meantime, fighting continued on Thursday in Severodonetsk. While pulling out remaining Ukrainian forces and reforming in the much more easily defended position of Lysychansk continues to look like the sensible, and maybe inevitable, move, Ukrainian forces reported on Thursday morning that they had actually retaken some parts of Severodonetsk. However, the majority of the city remains under Russian control, and no one should be shocked if Ukraine decides that the cost of continuing there is too high, no matter how much symbolic value it holds.

Over near Popasna, Russia made another run at retaking Komyshuvakha, which Ukraine took back from Russia last week. Once again, Ukraine held the position. The same is true of Ukrainian forces holding a pair of flanking villages near Komyshuvakha. On the west side of Popasna, Russia claimed to have taken the village of Pylypchatyne on Tuesday, but on Thursday the location is once again in dispute.

As all of this is taking place, there is action down in the southern part of Ukraine at locations I’ve largely been ignoring. Active fighting is taking place at a series of villages northwest of the city of Donetsk. Over to the west, Russia seems to be sending a very large stack of very old equipment toward the city of Zaporizhzhia, and there is action at multiple points along the line in between.

How badly have I ignored this area? Every day, I tend to add towns and villages to the map as they get mentioned in combat reports. The same thing happens with the lines of control. I try to adjust them as reports come in, marking off areas of recent change, and setting Russia’s occupation roughly halfway between known points of control, with adjustments for natural obstacles like rivers. That’s how the area around Izyum ended up looking as it does in the top map. Constant fidgeting.

And now, here’s how the same map currently looks on the south end of this theater.

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Umm … what’s happening again?

That’s some serious neglect. Kharkiv has gotten attention. Kherson has gotten attention. Izyum has gotten attention. But the area between Mariupol and Zaporizhzhia has been carefully hidden from view, because I haven’t touched it. So … that ends today.

In particular, I’ve marked out the town of Hulyaipole. I’ve done so because I recently saw a report of fighting in the south that included an interview with two women who live in this town. They had a complaint that went beyond the bombs and shells that were crushing their homes. That complaint was: Why was no one was talking about it? Popasna was getting attention. Izyum was getting attention. Everywhere else that Russia was attacking was getting attention. Why was no one talking about the suffering of Hulyaipole?

Ladies, I know you’ll never read this. But later today, we’ll be looking at Hulyaipole.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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A patient gunned down his surgeon and three other people in a mass shooting at a Tulsa, Oklahoma, medical building on Wednesday after blaming the doctor for his pain, according to police.

On May 19, the suspected gunman underwent back surgery. Dr. Preston Phillips -- one of the four people killed in the shooting at the Natalie Building, a five-story medical complex at Saint Francis Hospital -- was the suspect's doctor in that surgery, Tulsa Police Chief Wendell Franklin said at a news conference Thursday.

A letter recovered on the suspect, Michael Louis, made it clear "that he came with the intent to kill Dr. Phillips and anyone who got in his way," Franklin said. "He blamed Dr. Phillips for the ongoing pain following the surgery."

Louis bought an AR-style semi-automatic rifle just hours before the shooting, Franklin said. He bought a 40-caliber pistol from a pawn shop on May 29, police said. Both appeared to be legally purchased, police said.

The three others killed were Dr. Stephanie Husen, office employee Amanda Green and patient William Love, Franklin said.

"They stood in the way" so the suspect "gunned them down," Franklin said.

Louis was found in the lobby area of Phillips' office from an apparent self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Louis was released from the hospital on May 24, five days after his surgery, Franklin said. After his release, the suspect called several times over several days complaining of pain and wanting additional treatment, the chief said.

On Tuesday, Phillips saw the suspect again for additional treatment, the chief said. On Wednesday, the suspect called the doctor complaining of back pain and wanting additional help, the chief said.

At 4:52 p.m. local time Wednesday, a patient on a video chat with a doctor called 911 after the doctor told her there was shooting, police said. The first 911 call came in at 4:53 p.m. and police arrived at 4:56 p.m., the chief said.

A gunshot heard at 4:58 p.m. was believed to be the suspect's self-inflicted gunshot wound, police said.

Phillips was found dead in an exam room, police said.

As police continued searching the hospital, they said they found a woman hiding under a desk near the suspect's body. The woman said she was unharmed but saw the suspect shoot himself, police said.

Several victims were treated at hospitals for gunshot wounds and later released, officials said.

There's no evidence that Phillips had any concerns about Louis, hospital officials said.

Thirty minutes after the shooting, authorities received a call from a woman who said her husband killed multiple people at Dr. Phillips' office, police said. Louis allegedly contacted his wife before or during the shooting "to let her know what he had done," the chief said.

The chief called this latest mass shooting a "senseless tragedy."

"This is yet another act of violence upon an American city," Franklin said. "We train for instances such as this. And I'm overwhelmed and proud of the men and women, all those that responded."

"Our training led us to take immediate action without hesitation," Franklin said.

Tulsa Mayor G.T. Bynum told reporters, "I spoke with an officer yesterday who is a seasoned veteran of the department. And he was one of the first people to get here. And he said, 'Mayor, it was like the beaches of Normandy out there. Everywhere I looked, to my left and my right, there were officers running towards that building, jumping over bushes, getting around anything in their way between them and that threat so that they could save people.'"

Dr. Ryan Elizabeth Parker, associate chief medical officer at St. Francis, said at Thursday's news conference, "We were just starting to process the grief and emotions that being on the front line of a pandemic had left with us, and now this tragedy. ... Our job is to help and heal, and we are here to do our job, even if it's with broken hearts."

In the wake of the Tulsa shooting, Vice President Kamala Harris again urged Congress to pass gun safety laws.

"No more excuses. Thoughts and prayers are important, but not enough. We need Congress to act," she said Thursday.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Thursday, Jun 2, 2022 · 3:20:54 PM EDT · Mark Sumner
If reports out of Severodonetsk are accurate, something damned amazing is underway.



В Северодонецке сейчас творится настоящая история военной хитрости, ВСУ затянули рашистов в город и сейчас с разных сторон идет огневая атака - рашики несут большие потери.


‎In Severodonetsk, a real history of military cunning is now being made, the Armed Forces of Ukraine dragged the Rashists into the city and now there is a fire attack from different sides - the Rashiks suffer heavy losses.‎
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Russian President Vladimir Putin fired a slew of generals earlier this week as Moscow continues to experience losses among its top officers and generals during its invasion of Ukraine.

Five top generals — Maj. Gens. Vasily Kukushkin, Alexander Laas, Andrey Lipilin, Alexander Udovenko and Yuri Instrankin — in addition to Police Colonel Emil Musin were fired by the Russian president on Monday, the Russian newspaper Pravda reported, citing a decree extract, which a source close to the Ministry of Internal Affairs of Russia confirmed the authenticity of to the news outlet.

Pravda, citing Russian media organization RBC, noted that a standard employee reshuffle procedure accounted for why the top officials had been fired.

But the development comes as officials have noted that Russia has suffered an unprecedented loss of top officers and generals.......
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: Fighting continues in Severodonetsk, and things are definitely not going as expected
Mark Sumner

A funny thing happened on the way to Russia’s capture of Severodonetsk. After reports from Ukrainian officials that Russia held about 80% of the city, and a full week after Chechen forces claimed to have taken the whole city (which never happened), Ukraine now appears to hold more of Severodonetsk than it did on Wednesday.

Some statements are now going as far as saying that Severodonetsk was a trap to lure in Russian soldiers. There are now claims that Ukrainian troops haven’t just held on to their corner of the city, but have spread out, taken prisoners, and are prepared to expel the remaining Russian forces from the city. Which, if true, is just … wow.

However, there are other statements saying that while Ukrainian forces did recapture some blocks of the city on Thursday, they are still vastly outnumbered and are holding positions to allow more civilian evacuations. I absolutely want to believe the reports that Ukraine is about to pull off what would be a mid-level miracle. But I’m not investing in these reports too deeply at this point.

In a story that sounds all too familiar, The Guardian reports that a large number of people are hiding below a factory site in Severodonetsk.

About 800 people, including children, are hiding beneath a chemical factory in the key eastern Ukrainian city of Sievierodonetsk, now 80% held by Russian troops, as more western allies promise additional missile systems and arms to Kyiv.

This would seem to set up an almost Mariupol-like situation, though it’s unlikely that any other site is as well prepared for invasion as the Azovstal plant.

Right now, please take all reports out of Severodonetsk with a coffee cup
full of salt. Both sides have a lot invested in this location on a symbolic basis, which means it’s extremely open to a propaganda push from either side.

..........
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Ukraine captures Russian hold out location at Vesele

After a week in which relatively little ground has changed hands, there is action today north of Kharkiv. Ukraine has captured the town of Vesele, where Russian forces had been dug in since the start of the counteroffensive in the area. Russian troops have retreated to the area of Lyptsi, and reportedly made an unsuccessful attempt to advance to the south.

At the same time, pro-Russian sources are reporting a large Russian advance in the area, one in which Russia has apparently captured not just Ternova but Staryi Saltiv and multiple villages. Please note that, while this “big Russian advance” map is circulating widely on Twitter, there is no (as in zero) evidence that such a Russian attack exists in any form, not even in Telegram chatter. Someday, Russian propagandists are going to get tired of claiming that Russia has retaken Ternova. Today is not that day.



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Zaporizhzhia area

As promised, the map of the area east of Zaporizhzhia has gotten some attention today. Russia is making a number of pushes in this area, but so far has been unsuccessful at translating them into genuine gains. A number of villages are in dispute east and south of Hulyaipole, which has been shelled heavily for weeks. Another group of villages have faced assault near Orikhiv, but there’s no clear evidence that any have changed hands.

What’s making the Zaporizhzhia area particularly interesting right now is what’s reported to be coming. In the last few days, several small groups of Russian soldiers or isolated vehicles have been destroyed attempting to advance along the highway on the east bank of the Dnipro River. But these are reported to be the vanguard of a large Russian force—a force equipped with T-62 tanks. This force has supposedly rolled through Melitopol headed north, but it’s hard to believe Russia will actually use these tanks for more than patrolling areas solidly under their control.

Over the last several weeks, there have been several flip-flops when it comes to control of the villages along the border of Russian-occupied territory, but now Russia does seem to be moving forward from that border with more purpose—though what that purpose might be is not clear.

Last week, a village near Hulyaipole was the site for this demonstration of Ukrainian artillery skill.



And finally, I’m bringing you this fine example of Tucker Carlson / Pillow Guy quality propaganda for your enjoyment. Honestly, the production values here make me feel safer.



You see, comrade? Russia is taking these cities without even firing a shot. Nothing in this city has been damaged. There are people playing games, strolling the sidewalks, out for dinner and shopping. They love Russia! They also love wearing their winter coats in June! Ukrainians, such interesting people!
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Feb 6, 2014
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'How much more carnage are we willing to accept?' Biden makes plea for renewed assault weapons ban
April Siese

President Biden addressed the nation on Thursday night in the wake of what feels like an endless barrage of mass shootings in the country. His remarks came just a day after a shooting in Tulsa, Oklahoma, killed at least four people as well as a gunman, and on the heels of his trip to Uvalde, Texas, where 19 students and two teachers were killed along with a gunman who opened fire at Robb Elementary School. Biden described his experience visiting Uvalde with first lady Jill Biden.

“In front of Robb Elementary School, we stood before 21 crosses for 19 third- and fourth-graders and two teachers. On each cross, a name and nearby a photo of each victim that Jill and I reached out to touch. Innocent victims murdered in a classroom that had been turned into a killing field. Standing there in that small town—like so many communities across America—I couldn’t help but think there are too many other schools, too many other places that have become killing fields, battlefields in America,” Biden said, before recalling the many mass shootings that preceded the most recent tragedies.

Biden assured Americans that he wasn’t interested in eliminating all gun ownership, but rather responding to the gun violence epidemic in the country. The president pleaded for the ‘90s-era assault rifle ban to be reinstated, along with a ban on high-capacity magazines. He suggested, at the least, raising the minimum age for gun ownership from 18 to 21, as well as strengthening background checks, enacting safe storage and access prevention laws, instituting red flag laws, and even repealing gun industry immunity.

“How much more carnage are we willing to accept?” Biden pleaded. He criticized Republicans for their inability to act and their kowtowing to the gun lobby, and urged lawmakers to do something—especially as communities continue to mourn the many lives senselessly lost to gun violence. “As the people of Uvalde mourn, as they do over the next 17 days, what will we be doing as a nation?” Biden asked. There doesn’t appear to be a timeline on enacting sweeping gun reform, though Biden has been diligent in pressuring Congress to act swiftly and effectively. “I will never give up,” Biden said, “and if Congress fails I believe this time the majority of American people won’t give up, either. I believe the majority of you will act to turn your outrage into making this issue central to your vote.”

 

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