As Florida was reeling from the impact of Hurricane Ian, Congress approved a short-term spending bill on Friday to keep the government open through mid-December. The measure included sending another $12.3 billion in military and economic aid to Ukraine at a critical moment as Ukrainian forces are on the offensive and liberating large swaths of territory from the Russian occupiers.
But Donald Trump Jr. and other MAGA Republicans are shamelessly using Hurricane Ian in an effort to undermine the Biden administration’s efforts to help Ukraine defend itself against Russian aggression.
Passage of the legislation averted a government shut down just hours before Congress was set to recess until after November’s mid-term elections.
“This package comes at a critical moment,” said Speaker Nancy Pelosi of California, pointing to Ukraine’s recent success on the battlefield in Ukraine and the Biden administration’s commitment to support Ukraine.. “With this supplemental, we take another strong step toward honoring that pledge, our country’s pledge.”
In the House, the bill passed on almost a straight party-line vote, 230-201, with only 10 Republicans voting in favor. Republicans offered various reasons for opposing the measure, including the need to spend more money on defending the southern border rather than Ukraine.
A day earlier, the Senate passed the temporary spending measure by a vote of 72-25. The Republican caucus was split in half — with 25 senators opposing the bill, including the usual suspects like Sens. Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Josh Hawley..
“Assisting Ukraine is not some feel-good, symbolic gesture — it’s literally an investment in our own national security and that of our allies,” said McConnell, who led a delegation of Republican senators on a visit to Kyiv to meet President Volodymyr Zelenskyy in May.
But it didn’t take long for MAGA Republicans to take to make the ridiculous argument that the additional $12.3 billion in military assistance to Ukraine comes at the expense of aiding victims of Hurricane Ian.
And of course in the Magaverse where one goes, they all go. So Twitter and other social media are full of MAGA Republicans (and likely Russian trolls) regurgitating these memes that aid to Ukraine somehow will deprive victims of Hurricane Ian of the aid they need. This meme has been repeated ad infinitum regarding other GQP priorities such as border security and inflation since Russia launched its full-scale invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24.
And when it comes down to it $12.3 billion is just a drop in the bucket in terms of spending. Despite the recent decline in the stock market, the U.S. has about 700 billionaires with several trillion dollars in wealth.
For Jeff Bezos or Elon Musk, $12.3 billion would amount to litle more than pocket change.
In the big picture, the U.S. government could easily provide aid to Ukraine and take care of the victims of Hurricane Ian. It’s GQP members crying crocodile tears who had no problem voting against aid to California after the recent wildfires or New York-New Jersey after Superstorm Sandy.
And even if they succeeded in reducing spending to help Ukraine fight the Russian occupiers where do you think money would go?
And as the New York Times reports, Yevgeny Prigozhin, Putin’s former chef who now runs Putin’s private army Wagner Group that is also flailing in Ukraine, has verbally attacked Russian military leaders, writing:
Send all these pieces of garbage barefoot with machine guns straight to the front.
This pretty much describes what Putin is already doing to his conscripts, no? What Prigozhin is saying is that Putin should also feed the the Russian army’s officers directly into the meat grinder. Which would leave Prigozhin’s Wagner Group in charge.
Kadyrov and Prigozhin know that heads will roll after Lyman’s fall, and they want to make sure that it’s somebody else’s heads. It doesn’t matter that Kadyrov and Prigozhin themselves are partly responsible for Russia’s disasters — along with Putin of course — what matters is who takes the blame, who is the fall guy, who is the scapegoat.
I will leave readers with a woodcut of one of the original scapegoats
— one of a pair of goats in a ritual. In the ceremony, the scapegoat is sent away into the wilderness to bear the sins of the community. The other goat — the goat that’s not the scapegoat — is killed immediately.
Kadyrov and Prigozhin may eventually envy the scapegoat’s fate.
On Saturday evening in Ukraine, Ukrainian forces are moving block by block through the city of Lyman, looking into houses, checking IDs of any residents still there, and accepting the surrender of any Russian forces willing to lay down arms. Russian casualties north of the city, and along the highway to the east, are reported to be horrendous, and it’s probably going to be some time before any since of the true scale of the carnage becomes clear. But with darkness falling over Lyman, at least for the moment, those conducting the door-to-door search report relative peace. There have already been images showing Ukrainian soldiers at the building Russia was using for their local HQ. No one was home.
It may seem like the siege of Lyman went on for an extended period, but it’s really been less than three weeks since Izyum was liberated. In that time, Ukraine has freed over 1,400 square kilometers and dozens of localities. Not bad for a period in which Ukraine was also consolidating its control over the 300+ towns and villages it had just liberated, handling thousands of Russian prisoners, and incorporating hundreds of abandoned Russian vehicles.
What Ukraine just accomplished in the area around Lyman is an amazing example of multi-tasking. And of being able to execute a plan, even in the face of the enemy. The came, they saw, they maneuvered the holy hell out of it.
Here’s a new map, and for once there is not a big blob of yellow and red stretching out around Lyman.
Lyman is suddenly kilometers from the front line.
As of Saturday, there are likely Russian troops still remaining in Lyman, in Zarichne, and in the woods and fields east of both. Ukrainian forces are trying to locate survivors from the running battle fought along the highway. Expect to see some of the new hardware they’ve acquired from that “Russian lend lease program” in the next few days.
Even before the final round of combat got rolling around Lyman, there were reports of Ukrainian troops showing up 30km to the east at Kreminna. With a population of 18,000 before the war, Kreminna is almost the same size as Lyman, but until last week it was a position that Russia almost seemed to have ignored. In fact, local officials once let it be known that there were no Russians in the city and ran up a Ukrainian flag, before the Russians came back and put a stop to that.
Over the last two weeks, much of the reinforcement and materiel coming into Lyman has come through Kreminna, but that may not be a good indication that the city has been built up or prepared as a defensive position. Which may be why there are multiple reports on Saturday that the first response of Russian forces there to the unexpected appearance of Ukrainian troops, was to run away.
On the other hand, there wereplentyof reports on both Telegram and Twitter over the last month that Russia had pulled out of areas that it had definitely not left. The number of false “Russia has withdrawn from (insert town here)” in the last two weeks has been so high, that even if there’s not a single Russian troop in Kreminna, someone will need to walk around the town with a camera before most people are going to buy it. For now assume that Kreminna is well-stocked with Russian forces.
The expectation of most observers is that Ukraine will now move toward Svatove, which is to the north, behind that arc of towns that have “boxes” in them. Those represent locations where Russian sources say Russia is preparing a defensive line, expressly to prevent Ukraine from reaching Svatove from the south. But of course, those positions were hardened on the assumption that Ukraine would try to move up the highway directly from Lyman to Svatove, because TWRWD (that’s what Russia would do).
If we back away a step, it’s clear that Ukraine has options.
Over along the Oskil River, Ukraine has forces on the south of Borova, and another force coming down the river which is just 15km to the north. It’s certain that Ukraine would like to liberate Borova, which is the largest town in Kharkiv Oblast still occupied by Russia. On the other hand, they don’t need Borova to move down the wide open P07 highway, through the heart of Kharkiv Oblast, and into Luhansk. Maybe Russia has also hardened some locations in that direction, but there aren’t many hills, or towns, along that route to make a good stopping point.
Ukraine could go for Svatove straight down the P07 without bothering to take Borova. It could take Kreminna, or bypass it, and move toward Svatove from the south. Or it could ignore Svatove completely and go for Rubizhne, Severodonetsk, and Lysychansk.
It could do none of the above.
While Russia continues to dash itself on the rocks at Bakhmut, seemingly unable to think of anything else worth doing. Ukraine has plenty of options. Most likely it will do what it’s done in the past month—look for the location where Russia is vulnerable, maneuver for position to avoid marching straight into artillery and massed troops, and accept Russia’s surrender when they cut off and destroy that position.
It’s certainly fun to speculate about where Ukraine goes next. We probably won’t have to wait long to find out. ...........
As this was being written, both Russian and Ukrainian sources began reporting what looks to be a serious shift in Kherson. One Russian source indicates that Ukrainian forces are “pouring in” along “the whole northern border.” Another insists they have to retreat because the Ukrainian forces “have many vehicles.”
I don’t yet have enough specifics to map what’s happening. As best I can tell, the major push seems to be just a few miles on the west side of the Dnipro River. It seems like Ukraine may be about to come at the Kherson area in a whole new way. Stay tuned.
Saturday, Oct 1, 2022 · 4:49:57 PM EDT · Mark Sumner Here’s more on that advance Ukraine is making in the Kherson area. Russia had actually managed to recapture a few villages in this area over the last three weeks. Now it looks like Ukraine is taking them back quickly. Then we’ll see if push turns into a major drive toward one of the two critical objects: Kozatske (across from Nova kakhovka) or the city of Kherson.