More to ignore, Book 97....

Ten Thousan Marbles

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'Out of sight': Rumors about Trump wanting the USS John McCain hidden for 2019 Japan visit are true

Aldous J Pennyfarthing

In 2019, reports emerged that the White House had requested the USS John McCain stay out of sight while Donald Trump regaled the troops in Japan with a speech in which he weirdly wished a “happy Memorial Day” to Japanese service members. After the story blew up, Trump did his best to distance himself from the controversy, eventually calling it “an exaggeration, or even Fake News.”

Guess what? He was lying.

Shortly after the news broke, investigative reporter Jason Leopold made an FOIA request for documents related to the incident. He just received those documents, and sure enough, the request to hide an entire naval destroyer because it bruised the leader of the free world’s ego came directly from the White House.

In a Twitter thread, Leopold gave a rundown of his findings and attached the relevant emails. (If you don’t do Twitter, click here to see the unrolled thread.)





There’s a lot of back and forth in those emails, and they’re certainly worth perusing, but the takeaway is that, yes, the military actually did spend time and resources—which they could have been using to make our military more “woke”—on keeping the name of Donald Trump’s sworn nemesis out of sight. And the folks involved in fulfilling the request appear to have recognized how petty and shallow it was.

In the following message, one of the respondents on the email thread says “this just makes me sad” and another cheekily observes that they could see the blunt request “becoming a tweet.”

ScreenShot2022-09-29at9.41.52AM.png


No matter how thoroughly you loathe Donald Trump, I can almost guarantee you’re not trying hard enough. If they gave out Nobel Prizes for pettiness, Trump would whine that he hadn’t won more of them. (You know, because of the prize money.) This is the same guy who canceled his gravely ill infant nephew’s health insurance—out of spite.

If Trump has any human qualities at all, they’re basically limited to metabolizing carbs, sugars, and deep-fried Christmas sea lions. Try as you might, you won’t find a shred of munificence or generosity of spirit in FPOTUS, though I wouldn’t be at all shocked if you found two sparrows in his head fighting over a tube of Rolos.

Donald Trump deeply and publicly hated the late Arizona Sen. John McCain—likely because McCain’s bravery, honor, dedication, and genuine patriotism shamed him. And because McCain was never shy about calling out Trump’s disgraceful words and actions.

In fact, when McCain died in 2018, Trump initially refused to order flags flown at half-staff. He also famously denigrated McCain’s service to his country because McCain had been captured during the Vietnam War. Oh, and just hours after McCain’s funeral, he thought it was a swell idea to blatantly troll the senator’s daughter. Because he has even less impulse control than honor.



And let’s not forget the ex-pr*sident’s penchant for wasting military resources to puff himself up. There was, of course, his effort to redirect military resources to build his southern border vanity wall. And the time he forced the Pentagon to make plans for a Soviet-style military parade through the streets of Washington, D.C. And let’s not forget about the Air Force’s mysterious refueling stop in Scotland, which just happened to be near Trump’s Turnberry golf resort.

As POLITICO reported at the time …

According to a letter the panel sent to the Pentagon in June, the military has spent $11 million on fuel at the Prestwick Airport — the closest airport to Trump Turnberry — since October 2017, fuel that would be cheaper if purchased at a U.S. military base. The letter also cites a Guardian report that the airport provided cut-rate rooms and free rounds of golf at Turnberry for select airline crews.
Taken together, the incidents raise the possibility that the military has helped keep Trump’s Turnberry resort afloat — the property lost $4.5 million in 2017, but revenue went up $3 million in 2018.

But President Barack Obama saluted a Marine with a coffee cup in his hand that one time, so I guess it’s a wash.

Of course, Trump being petty is a decidedly dog-bites-man story, but these are some pretty big effing dogs that have been mauling us for the past seven years, and I think we’re entitled to show our scars. And this incident clearly left a mark.

If only blatant abuse of power were still enough to shock congressional Republicans. Then we’d really have a story.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Everything Donald Trump touches dies

Hunter

After being scraped out of the White House and deposited back at Mar-a-Lago, it didn't take long for Donald J. Trump to begin holding for-profit events that looked and sounded a lot like campaign rallies but have, in fact, been nothing but personal cash grabs. Donald likes yelling his grievances at a live audience; if weird and sedition-friendly Americans want to pay Donald to complain at them inside sweaty arenas with other like-minded masochists, Donald's going to take the money and yell the things.

We're all accustomed to this game by now, so if you assumed that Donald Trump getting paid was going to turn out to be connected to nearly everyone else involved in the effort getting screwed, you get no prize. Sure enough, the "American Freedom Tour" has been failing to pay its bills, canceling events, and leaving speakers not named Donald Trump wondering if they're ever going to get their money.

The Washington Post brings us that news, and it's filled with the sort of details that really bring home what a thoroughly Trumpian operation this thing has been. American Freedom Tour is the company that's been organizing these Trump rallies, and the Post reports that Donald Trump personally appears to be getting paid his full amount for every appearance. The same isn't true for the company's "vendors, investors, and employees," as the company cancels events and promises everyone that the money's coming real soon now.

"In addition to Trump, the shows featured right-wing celebrities such as Candace Owens and Kimberly Guilfoyle, as well as motivational speakers offering personal finance courses," notes the Post, which immediately raises the question: How close do you have to be to Donald, personally, to get your money? Candace Owens probably won't be seeing any cash, but does dating one of Trump's children improve your odds?

Yeah, I'm betting no. I'm pretty sure Donald Trump would hate you forever if you proposed giving Donald Trump slightly less money so that you could pay anyone else, including Donald Trump Jr., a dime.

Those names are also a reminder that, despite the high ticket prices, these events weren't exactly posh affairs. Trump is the headliner, and everyone else is "people that you'd never, ever pay money to hear from."

What's not clear from the Post's story is why the company is canceling events. A company spokescreature cites "unforeseen scheduling issues," which might mean that Donald Trump keeps having to nix event dates because they've been conflicting with his ongoing series of crimes but could also mean that Trump's draw—recent pictures from attendees have shown venues that might be half full, if you're being generous—has so faded that it's become hard for the events to turn a profit.

In fact, it's almost certainly that. The company has been putting on Trump for-profit Trump rallies and yet can't pay its bills. That means it’s not selling enough tickets to make its business plan profitable.

Trump can draw a gaggle, but Trump can't draw a crowd. We also know that Trump has been demanding that donors and other suckers pay for his flights to and from events, and you know whatever speaking fee he's charging is one far steeper than what the ticket sales can justify.

So that's a little treat. Everything Trump touches dies; everyone who works with Donald Trump ends up getting stiffed. You'd think after decades of this, the world would run out of suckers, but no. No, there are always more people who think, "if I partner up with Donald J. Trump, I won't lose my shirt."


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Trump refuses to reschedule deposition at Mar-a-Lago, despite dangers of Hurricane Ian

Rebekah Sager

Usually, Trump’s lawyers are running from having their client deposed under oath, but for some reason, this time, the former president is refusing to delay or move his deposition away from his beloved Mar-a-Lago estate.

According to Bloomberg, the former president is scheduled to be deposed Friday amid a lesser-known 2018 class action lawsuit related to a desktop videophone, an ACN product he hawked on Celebrity Apprentice. Trump, along with his three children, Ivanka, Eric, Donald Trump Jr., and the Trump Corporation, were all sued by investors after they claimed they were fooled into paying to become independent sellers of the failed phones.

Attorneys for the investors say they offered to postpone the hearing as Hurricane Ian hit the Florida coast, arguing that the situation was too dangerous to meet in person. But Trump’s lawyers fought back, saying they needed the former president to give his deposition under oath on Friday—and that he would only do it from Mar-a-Lago.

Clifford S. Robert, one of Trump’s attorneys, argued vehemently against the investor’s lawyer, Roberta Kaplan, who suggested Trump’s deposition be moved to the former president’s golf club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

“We thought it absolutely absurd to travel from the New York area to West Palm Beach in the middle of a hurricane and would have been pleased to reschedule the deposition to another date, but plaintiffs insisted that it proceed,” Robert wrote in an email obtained by Bloomberg.

Bloomberg reports that Trump has been battling the suit for years, but after his chances of it ever being dismissed and swept under the rug failed, he finally agreed to be deposed—but only at Mar-a-Lago, apparently.

Trump’s attorneys also rejected the suggestion of meeting via Zoom.

According to the lawsuit, Trump told investors about “tremendous” phones that were “at the forefront of innovation.” The phones were quickly replaced by smartphones and Skype, leaving investors high and dry and holding onto nothing more than Trump’s lies. Trump made $9 million promoting ACN products from 2005 to 2015, Bloomberg reported in February.

The judge ultimately told both sides they would need to decide on the date but added the caveat that it must be held before Oct. 31.

As Daily Kos’ Mark Sumner eloquently writes, Trump has perfected the art of delay.

“Even before stepping foot in the White House, Donald Trump had been involved in a jaw-dropping 3,500 lawsuits. From all that time in court spent stiffing contractors, dodging people who paid for condos that were never built, and feigning ignorance over tax fraud, Trump demonstrated his biggest superpower: delay. Given enough money, and an unscrupulous attorney, Trump found the legal system offered endless opportunities for motions, appeals, and requests. In a lesson that came straight from his racist father and his legal mentor Roy Cohn, Trump learned early that it was possible to ride out most any storm through the magic of delay,” Sumner writes.

Knowing that the business of cleaning up after Hurricane Ian will take time, one can bet on the fact that his lawyers may say he’s insisting on moving forward with his deposition, but the reality is Trump’s attorneys will likely opt for another delay.


 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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DeSantis is happy to receive emergency aid that he callously voted to deny Hurricane Sandy victims

Dartagnan

Once upon a time (2013 to be exact), a nasty little first-term Congressman named Ronald DeSantis decided he wanted to make a big, big statement in order to ingratiate himself with a group of fellow conservatives that called themselves the “Tea Party.“ In a gesture that foreshadowed what would later become his trademark “LOL, let’s own the Libs” strategy, and timely occurring the day after he was sworn into office, DeSantis voted to deny billions in relief to New York and New Jersey residents whose lives had been ravaged by one of this nation’s most destructive national disasters, the “Superstorm” known as Hurricane Sandy.

As reported at the time by Steve Contorno, writing for the Tampa Bay Times:

The day after he was sworn into office, Jan. 4, 2013, DeSantis voted against a $9.7 billion relief package for the New York and New Jersey victims of Hurricane Sandy.

"This 'put it on the credit card mentality' is part of the reason we find ourselves nearly $17 trillion in debt," DeSantis said, explaining his vote.

But that was before the current governor of Florida became the embodiment of Republican hopes to succeed the erratic and volatile Donald Trump; before he raised his national profile with a deliberate series of callous, racist and homophobic political stunts in an effort to demonstrate his rightful heirship to that throne; and — most importantly -- before his own state of Florida was soundly thwacked head-on with a disastrous hurricane whose destructive path has left in its wake an as-yet unmeasured toll on residents unfortunate enough to find themselves in its crosshairs.
........
On Wednesday DeSantis officially requested 100% federal aid and a major disaster declaration for all 67 of Florida’s counties in the wake of Hurricane Ian. In addition to “federal assistance programs for individuals,” DeSantis has requested funds for repairing not just “emergency” infrastructure but public works and buildings damaged by the flooding, over the long term. Collectively, this is the same type of relief he voted against providing to victims of Superstorm Sandy.

Like other Republicans who voted against aid to Sandy’s victims, DeSantis has fumbled for an explanation about his original vote against the Sandy aid after it became apparent that similar natural disasters occurring in “red” states would continue to demand federal funds on a more or less recurring basis. His excuse, as Contorno reported, was that such appropriations were ”different than the disaster package for Sandy, which he said was loaded with projects that weren't emergency-related.”

That was a lie then and it remains a lie today. The majority of that $9.7 Billion package for Sandy relief, as Contorno explains, “went toward a bailout of the National Flood Insurance Program so people who had their homes destroyed by Sandy could be paid, or to fix infrastructure, like train lines, damaged by the storm.”

Faced with nagging accusations about hypocrisy, DeSantis tried a new tack several months later, complaining that the Sandy relief bill had been filled with “extraneous stuff” and, in a new twist, blamed New York’s state government for being fiscally irresponsible for failing to properly insure buildings that had been destroyed by Sandy.

As reported in 2013 by the Douglas Jordan for the St. Augustine Record:

"You also had the New York state government coming into Congress saying, 'Hey, look at all these buildings that got damaged.' And we asked, OK, what is insurance picking up on this? And they said, 'Well, we didn't insure them, we didn't think they'd ever be a problem.' So, in that situation, we want to help people, I think, as the last line of defense, but you don't want to basically reward them for not doing the responsible thing.

“Not doing the responsible thing,” huh. Gee, I wonder how many buildings in Kissimmee were underinsured as of last week?

Before anyone accuses me of trying to make political hay out of a disaster, the point is this: it’s very easy to try to turn the provision of emergency aid into a statement of your so-called morality to score political points when you’re not the one suffering through the disaster. In fact, some might even compare it to the kind of callous, self-interested disregard someone who, let’s say, denied the efficacy of social distancing and mask regulations during an unprecedented pandemic, and lied about his own state’s fatality rates, might exhibit.

But DeSantis needn’t worry. His state will doubtlessly get the money it needs from President Biden’s FEMA and the Democratic Congress. And he can continue to preen through his vetted and rehearsed appearances and pretend he’s some sort of hero, safe in the knowledge that the damage will be repaired.

It’s just too bad he couldn’t extend that courtesy to the citizens of New York and New Jersey, when they needed the same help.

Pakalolo also discusses DeSantis’ hypocrisy here.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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'You’re making it political. Shame on you’: Rep. Slotkin slams GOP backtracking on veterans bill

Walter Einenkel

It would seem obvious to most Americans that outlawing or hindering any group of people’s medical rights would be morally wrong. Most Americans would consider it, at the very least, to feel unconstitutional. Virtually all Americans would consider outlawing or hindering any group of military veterans’ medical rights to be arguably the lowest form of spiritual bankruptcy available to the human race.

That is exactly how low the Republican Party has gone. In the GOP’s misshapen plan to gum up all government productivity, they find themselves stumbling over themselves to stop legislation that was once considered very easily bipartisan. In August, Republican senators like Ted Cruz decided to vote against the PACT Act, which was 100% dedicated to health care and benefits for veterans exposed to toxic agents. At that time, the Republican Party whined about “spending” in the bill. A strange load of horse manure even for the GOP at the time. We are approaching the end of September, and the House of Representatives is finally moving to vote on passing the Solid Start Act. This is another veterans program that hopes to provide much-needed outreach to veterans in their first years of transition back to the civilian world.

One of the main factors that led to the Solid Start pilot program, a bipartisan effort begun during the Trump administration, was the high suicide rates veterans were seeing in their first years out of service. This expansion and codification of the program was introduced by Democratic Rep. Elissa Slotkin of Michigan and Republican Rep. David Joyce of Ohio. It’s a softball piece of legislation to pass. On Wednesday, after going through the committees, the bill was suddenly thrown into a strange place where Republicans said they would not vote for it—if 16 specific words remained in the bill.

Those 16 words? “Providing women veterans with information that is tailored to their specific health care and benefit needs.” It’s in the 6320 (F) section of the bill. It is not a long bill. It is a very simple thing to read and comprehend. But health that is “tailored” to women is equal to women’s health and reproductive health, and the GOP objects to women’s health beyond being a vessel for baby-making.

One of the main authors of the bill, Rep. Elissa Slotkin, stood up and gave the GOP in the House the what-for for about 5 minutes. Rep. Slotkin made sure to remind those in the chambers that “this language has been in the bill since its inception when we created this.” That was in April 2021. More than that, these 16 words speak to health care already “covered by the VA.”

Rep. Slotkin wanted to make sure people understand that women’s health care is health care. “But just so we understand what was meant with the idea of providing women and veterans with information tailored to them, pregnancy and mental health care, maternity care, mammogram, breast health, breastfeeding and lactation, menopause, gynecological cancer. Pre-pregnancy health. Chronic pelvic pain. Birth Control. Osteoporosis, prosthetics for women. Intimate Partner Violence, disordered eating, sexual assault. I can go on. There is a very long list of specific health issues that are specific to women.”

As the Michigan Representative explained, none of this is “controversial,” so what is really going on that, now, all of a sudden, the GOP has decided to add more deaths to their political party’s body count?

“Earlier today, a letter went out from Ranking Member Bost and the pro-life caucus saying that members, while they supported it previously, should now turn against it. After publicly supporting this, they are now leaving it. And why? Because they are concerned about VA policy. They are concerned about the VA's decision to provide veteran women with access to abortion when they have been raped, when they are the victims of family incest, or when a doctor confirms that the pregnancy is a risk to the health or the life of the mother.
Not abortion on demand, not extreme policies. These very basic, commonly accepted instances when a women veteran has gone through hell and has no other option. The other side of the aisle, to be clear, is objecting to this bill because they object to any exceptions whatsoever on abortion. It is a political game. It is literally putting politics ahead of the 18 million veterans and 200,000 each year that separate.
It is our responsibility to honor the veterans, male and female. And I find it disturbing that you would play politics in this way. I asked the other side of the aisle to reconsider and support this bill.”

We are trolling the depths of the moral ocean here, and somehow the Republican Party is searching lower.



Rep. Slotkin was not done. After hearing Republicans wring their bloody hands and spout platitudes and bullshit, the Congresswoman went back up to hammer home the facts with a touch more emphasis. She first reminded the Republican Party how the government is technically set up to work: “I just I want to be clear, no one in this room is in the Judicial branch. And no one in this room that I'm aware of is a medical doctor. If you believe that the provisions that the VA has put forward have a legal problem, you have the right to take up that case and put it through the courts. We are the legislative branch. We make laws. We pass laws. We are not judge and jury. Take it to a court. If you're concerned, that is your right in terms of making decisions on behalf of women.”

Then she got down to brass tacks:


“If you want to take a veterans bill and make it about abortion, then let's do it. What you are saying, and you're saying in front of the American people, is that you believe a veteran who has been raped, who is the victim of incest, and who is or who is having a dangerous miscarriage.
“She does not deserve access to abortion. You are saying—unless you correct me and tell me—what you believe a woman deserves to have when she has been raped, the victim of incest, or is in the middle of a dangerous miscarriage. If you can't state it, then be clear you believe in no exceptions for women. A cold, heartless, violent approach to women's health.
“You want to ban all abortions. That is your goal. Many of you had been open about that. And if you flip the House, we know that you will put forward a full ban on all abortion for all states. You've been clear about it. You want to turn a veterans bill into an abortion bill. Let's do it. Not one of you are a medical doctor.
“Not one of you. What the VA guidelines say is that if you've been raped or the victim of incest or a medical profession deems that your pregnancy is a risk to your health. The one of four women in this country who has had a miscarriage, probably many women in this room, that you are a better judge of who gets to decide the future of their life and not a medical doctor.
“Who do you think you are? You are politicians. We are all on this floor. Elected officials and not medical professionals. If it was your wife, your daughter who was suffering through a miscarriage, are you going to tell her she can't until her fever gets high enough? Until she's bleeding harder? That's what's happening in the state of Texas right now.

“If that's what you want for veterans. Shame on you. Shame on you. I'm sorry. I we built this bill to be bipartisan, and I saw your support particularly, sir. And you're making it a political issue. Shame on you. You all have pictures of veterans in your office. Proud to show your pride in our veterans. It should be the most bipartisan issue in the world. And you're making it political. Shame on you.”

Amen to that.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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DOJ Indicts Deripaska

ericlewis0

From The Washington Post:

Russian billionaire Oleg Vladimirovich Deripaska has been indicted on a charge of sanctions evasion, part of an ongoing effort by the Justice Department to hold wealthy Russians with ties to Vladimir Putin accountable for violating U.S. laws as Russia’s war in Ukraine rages on.
Deripaska’s indictment was unsealed Thursday in U.S. District Court in Manhattan and also names three other defendants accused of participating in his efforts to skirt sanctions that were imposed on him in 2018 when he was slapped with economic sanctions by the U.S. government for acting on behalf of a Russian official and for operating in Russia’s energy sector.
The oligarch allegedly used an intermediary, Olga Shriki, to facilitate his $3 million sale of a music studio in California. Shriki, a New Jersey resident, is in custody while Deripaska and the others remain at large. His girlfriend, Ekaterina Olegovna Voronia, was charged with making false statements to officials when she traveled to the United States to give birth to their child.

www.washingtonpost.com/… (Paywall)

You may remember Deripaska as the Russian oligarch with whom Paul Manafort was sharing Trump campaign information back in 2016. From Axios:

Manafort hired and worked closely with Russian national Konstantin Kilimnik, whom the committee definitively calls a "Russian intelligence officer" that served as a liaison between him and Deripaska.

"Taken as a whole, Manafort's high level access and willingness to share information with individuals closely affiliated with the Russian intelligence services, particularly Kilimnik and associates of Oleg Deripaska, represented a grave counterintelligence threat," the committee wrote.

www.axios.com/…

Deripaska is also the guy with whom Mitch McConnell arranged to build a massive, job-producing aluminum plant in Kentucky, in 2019. That plan eventually fizzled out.

Regardless, Deripaska is about as close to Putin as one can be. As cited above, Deripaska has his finger in all the big U.S. treason pies of at least the last half decade. So…good move by the DOJ. They may never get their hands on him, but he will be persona non grata in the USA for the rest of his days.

Buh-bye.

 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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  • A U.S. Army major doctor and their physician wife have been charged with a criminal plot to give confidential medical information related to members of the U.S. military and their spouses to the Russian government.
  • Prosecutors said the Maryland couple, Maj. Jamie Lee Henry and anesthesiologist Anna Gabrielian, aimed to help Russia in its ongoing war against Ukraine.
  • Henry was a staff internist at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, who had a secret security clearance, while Gabrielian is on the staff of Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore.
  • Henry in 2015 was reported to be the first known active-duty Army officer to come out as transgender.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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Ukraine update: As Putin prepares for his big announcement Friday, Lyman is surrounded

kos

Russia rushed its fake “referendums” in the occupied territories for a simple reason: Vladimir Putin continues to resist declaring formal war, so pretending that Kherson, Zaporizhzhia, Donetsk, and Luhansk oblasts are “Russia” will allow him to both deploy conscripts to the region (Russian law does not allow their deployment outside Russian soil), as well as enable nuclear brinkmanship.

There is a weird belief among nationalist pro-Russian Telegram bloggers that doing so will also allow Russia to wage “real war,” as they are under the belief that Russia has somehow “held back.” Their evidence is that Ukrainian centers of power—the presidential palace, legislative chambers, and Ministry of Defense—haven’t been hit, and that Russia has been somewhat restrained from systemically degrading Ukraine’s rail network (and with it, the steady supply of Western arms). That observation is not without merit—the lack of attacks on Kyiv government buildings is indeed weird. But the rail situation? That’s just a matter of priorities—Russia prefers lobbing its rockets and missiles at civilian apartment buildings and bus stops, rather than valid military targets like rail networks. There really isn’t much left that Russia can do that it hasn’t already done, other than low-yield “tactical” nuclear weapons. That’s a line I’d wager Russia won’t actually cross, even as Ukrainian intelligence rates the chances as “very high.” (It’s a bet I’d hate to lose.)


The real danger of Putin’s decision to annex those territories (assuming he goes through with it, he is erratic after all) is that he will inevitable look weak, unable to defend Mother Russia herself, and if a Russian leader can’t defend its own territory, what good is he? Yet Russia doesn’t fully control any of the four oblasts, and he’s steadily losing ground by the day. In fact, his forces are on the verge of being routed in Lyman, a key roadblock to Ukrainian control of the entirety of Kharkiv oblast, and a gateway into northern Luhansk.

Russian war propagandist WarGonzo is already fleeing the area.



He further reported (Telegram’s in-app translation):

This night will be decisive for Krasny Lyman. Some may skeptically say "once again". But we reliably assert, relying on several reliable sources at once - it has never been so tough and so dangerous there. In addition to the breakthrough, to the Headquarters and the actual blockade of Drobyshev, fragmentary information was added that the battles for Yampol had also begun. Ticks around Lyman can close at any moment. There are still people there, including fighters of the NM DPR and the Russian Army. Drama to the situation is added by the fact that tomorrow, according to the idea, should be a solemn and historic day. Therefore, God forbid that the tragedy does not happen! We pray for you, our Heroes!

This is what it looks like on a map:

yam.png


WarGonzo says the battle of Yampil has “begun,” while other pro-Russian sources have declared it lost to the Ukrainian advance. They report that Stavky, also circled above, has already been recaptured by Ukraine. That cuts off Drobysheve and Derylove from their supply route east to Zarichne, while the road south to Lyman is already cut. The Russian defense in those two towns are fully cut off, and it’s reported to be a sizable garrison.

Lyman still has its road to Zarichne, but with Yampil either liberated or under extreme pressure, that road won't be open for much longer, and it is already under Ukrainian “fire control” (covered by artillery and mortar fire). Either the Lyman garrison flees (hopefully in faster and more reliable civilian vehicles, donating all the good stuff to the Ukrainian army), or they will also be encircled soon. Parsing WarGonzo’s report, I’d guess Russian forces will try to flee under cover of darkness. We’ll know for sure tomorrow.

Given Ukraine has already recaptured more than 1,000 square kilometers and liberated 50 settlements this week alone, the collapse of Russia’s biggest stronghold in this entire corner of the front would be a momentous strategic accomplishment, and an amazing propaganda victory overshadowing Putin’s grand speech on Friday.

Let’s pull the map back:

star.png

Left circle: Lyman and surroundings. Middle circle: Svatove. Right circle: Starobilsk

Russia is pinning the defense of that
entire red corner of Ukraine on Lyman, circled on the bottom-left of this map. By all indications, there’s nothing much behind it. That’s why Russia is rushing newly conscripted troops into Ukraine with 0-1 days of training. They have nothing else to try and hold that line. Yet those warm bodies won’t be more than an inconvenient speed bump once Ukraine breaks Lyman’s defenses and walks away with several hundred more trophy armored vehicles—Russia’s lend-lease for the Ukrainian army.

Post Lyman, the first prize is Svatove, and Russian sources claim Ukraine is already marching in that direction. There are no natural barriers to slow the Ukrainian advance, nor, apparently, Russian air defenses.

Russia’s regional logistics are already severely challenged. Svatove’s rail line was cut at Kupiansk. It has to be supplied via Starobilsk, then 62 kilometers via truck to Svatove, and then more trucks to feed the rest of the front. Russia does trucks poorly, and struggles beyond 25 kilometers of a railhead. Liberate Svatove, and supplying what’s left of Kharkiv oblast becomes practically impossible. Liberate Svatove, and Starobilsk is a wide-open straight shot, with zero natural obstacles save mud season.

Liberate Starobilsk … look at the map—
every single road and rail line in the region crosses at Starobilsk. Like … a star. (“Star” means “old” in Russian. It’s still an apt name for the town.) Liberate it, and Russia can’t supply anything in that entire massive plot of sparsely populated agricultural steppe. That’s another 10,000 square kilometers Ukraine could liberate before turning its attention toward the parts of Donbas Russia occupied prior to the February invasion. And while turning all that empty space Ukrainian colors will look great on a map, doing so has immense strategic value—cutting that rail line would mark the end of Belgorod’s status as Russia’s main supply hub for the war, requiring a complete rerouting to somewhere else, to Ukraine’s east.
 

Ten Thousan Marbles

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TTM note: Asov defender who surrendered at Mariupol, but has become active on twitter since the recent prisoner exchange. He has been tweeting videos and pics of those last days in Mariupol.