This is not unique to the Russo-Ukraine situation. I've been with
British personnel who carry their own laptops with them while on
active duty and move across borders with them. We have an unbelievable
naivety about technology in all societies - basically an inability to
control it, because people see carrying an all-in-one personal tracker
as their god-given inalienable right.
CO: Put this uniform on!
PVT: Yes sir!
CO: March 500 miles in the rain and snow!
CO: Eat this disgusting MRE.
CO: Fire on these enemies!
CO: Please surrender your cellphones for the safety of your entire
PVT: FK OFF! I need* to post on Facebook.
While running an exam I asked students to switch off their phones and
put them in a box at the front of the hall. Half were resistant. I had
to expel two for refusing and another who sneaked-in a second phone
that rang during the examination. Many of the remaining students were
distracted, looking nervously at the box every minute.
These are good, honest, hard working and normally attentive young
people, not delinquents, but those things have a hold over them that
is worrying. These things are drugs and the sooner we start saying
so and treating them as such the sooner we can find the appropriate
psychological stance and interventions.
Taking my own phone into a hostile situation on the other hand, why would you? I don’t even take my own phone when travelling for business.
Huh? That makes absolutely no sense to me. Being on business travel is exactly when I want my phone.
Maybe just reuse the phone number?
Get a similar soft display case with compartments big enough to hold cell phones, and have it displayed at the front of the class where everyone can see them. You put your phone in one of the “pouches,” you can see it the whole time you’re taking an exam, you pick it back out once you’re done.
I’m not sure what a practical method of ensuring you get the right phone back would be, but I can think of a few schemes. For example, each pouch has a uniquely numbered card, and when you put your phone in there, you take the card. Then you put the card back when you pick your phone back up. It would probably be helpful to have 1 or 2 visual indicators that you got it right, like the coordinates from the card also printed on the clear plastic in a way that’s easy to see them match, plus maybe a color scheme where a stripe or sticker of some kind on the clear plastic matches the color of the card itself. (This all to prevent accidental mix ups, not theft. The main benefit I see is letting the people still taking the exam feel confident that their phone is visible to them and it’ll remain where it is until they pick it up.)
Those are objective risks. Then you should also factor in subjective belief that when the phone is in your hands then you control its safety, while when it's out of your hands then anything can happen. When you're not in control, you tend to get pretty anxious.
Then you can add in other nightmares. What if the screen gets scratched? What if the phone gets crushed? What if someone takes your phone and accidentally drops it? What if they take it and leave with it? What if someone spills their coffee into the box? What if someone touches your phone with their filthy greasy hands and you get corona because of that?
Mildly worried about both on purpose and by accident.
(My GP comment was meant ironically, like, wouldn't this be crazy if: ...)
Seems like you are looking for conflict trying to be abrasive and prove your prejudice. This is especially the case now since many people use cases which are also wallets for your credit cards. Would you be comfortable leaving your wallet in a pile of other wallets in a box you can't control?
The easy way of doing it, which I personally experienced during countless exams, is that all phones needs to be turned off and put in your bag. The bag is then stashed out along the walls or hung on hooks. Then you can both keep an eye on your bag, knowing that no one will ruffle around in it and the exam watchers can easily make sure that only allowed materials are on the desks. Magically there's no opportunity for conflict.
Sure, someone inevitably forgot to turn off their second morning alarm and then an exam watcher and the person would together walk to the bag and under supervision turn it off. No need to escalate it into something more than it is.
With respect, it sounds as if you have some issues with authority.
The chaps were told weeks in advance. The box was for their
safety. It's not a theatrical magicians box that disappeared down a
trap door in a puff of smoke while my scantily clad assistant made big
eyes and cooing noises. It's just a clear plastic storage cube in full
view the whole time - really no different than having it on the desk
in front of you, just a few feet further away.
> Would you be comfortable leaving your wallet in a pile of other
wallets in a box you can't control?
Absolutely yes, in the hands of a trusted figure, if protocol demanded
it. I have to put my gear through a scanner every time I fly. Damnit,
I have to put my life in the hands of others. It's something you get
used to as you grow. We're not all in in control all the time.
> Sure, someone inevitably forgot to turn off their second morning alarm
You're making my point for me. The example I am giving is just a
crummy maths exam. People are griping about scratched screens and
other first world "nightmares". The original article was about getting
yourself and all your buddies blown to pieces because of an
"inevitable" lack of self-discipline.
I'd ask whether I can sit at the front, put my phone in my backpack, and store (lock) the backpack in front of the desk so that I can't access it without standing up and making noise.
So far no professor took issue with this.
Second, students really dont want to loose phone. Do, they like me have habits - check pocket/bag periodically whether phone is in. If the phone is not where I always have it, I will search for it soon.
It is expensive. People without such habit loose their devices often. And yes I know such people and they buy new phone once nine months or so. Cause the old one got lost.
I more recently was employed as a mobile device exploitation analyst at DIA and leverages many and more tactics outlined in the article against 'enemies of the state' if you will. The pragmatic thing to do is to properly educate the military and prohibit the use of these devices on deployments. Alas, that'll never happen though.
What I am saying is that characterizing use of tech as pointless Facebook post is argument base on lie. It is designed to make us feel certain way, it is designed to mock those soldiers, but it is not designed to be true.
Given that soldiers went to great lengths to write letters from trenches, it seems like war might suck and it may be nice to hear from mom or the wife.
On the other hand, if your army has shitty comma gear having a cellphone might be useful as a fallback communication option, but I probably would prefer to use previously locally acquired sims…
Remember all those Strava (and other) fitness/running heatmaps from US/UK bases in Iraq/Afghanistan back in the day?
There are many possible reasons to look at the phone. Some were mentioned in comments, I can add two more.
It may be a reflex action triggered by the need to consult google. Not the real attempt to google, but when my mind suggested such a possibility to me, my eyes could flicker in a direction of my phone.
Another possible reason is the process of rehearsing. If I was rehearsing answers using the phone, then I would try to look at my phone on each question needing a mental effort to answer. It is how memory works: when you trying to remember what you had read in a book you will look at the book or at least imagine the book.
Or third reason. A neurotic reaction. Exam is a stressful experience, while phone often used to relax, to shut down external reality and to get some rest. So students are trying to get grip on themselves by taking a phone, but stop themselves from doing it. Probably they stop not just because their phone is unreachable, but because it is an exam and not a time to relax. But their mind keeps trying to use phone as a tool of self-regulation. If phone was in their pocket, they would touch it sometimes without looking.
These things are not drugs but a new part of a human body. Like pants. Or even better, like glasses. I use glasses from my childhood, and I refuse to use contact lenses, because I feel myself naked without my glasses. I feel every movement of the air. It is disturbing. If you asked me to take an exam without my glasses, you probably would watched how I sometimes reach my nose with my hand, trying to touch my glasses founding everytime that I wear no glasses now. Or how sometimes I look longingly in a direction were my glasses are. I would do all this while being absorbed in an exam, and probably wouldn't remember it afterwards.
I am old enough to remember people doing that with packs of cigarettes. Automatically or subconsciously touching the pack for comfort at an interval when not actively smoking.
I have remarked on this behavior in myself and my phone.
The big difference is that glasses are a clear net positive. It is possible for phones to be a net positive but a phone is multipurpose and I doubt most of there users prioritize it as an educational device.
Sadly behavior like mindless scrolling is all to common, and companies know and measure success by sucking in more of there users minutes. The goal of these companies isn’t to maximize productive and meaningful minutes. The goal is to get any minutes at all. Sadly those mostly seem to come from the more drug-like use cases.
Dopamine dosing systems.
They can't drive a convoy a few hundred miles, they don't seem to know that tanks need protection from anti-tank missiles, they're scared to fly their plans, they use ordinary mobile phones to talk to each other, their generals are way out on the front line, their flagship got sunk, soldiers are quitting their jobs due to this not being an official war.
Wouldn't you stop after I don't know, a week of this? It just seems so overwhelmingly bad, you have to wonder if actually the war is going ok for them despite all these things and the Western media is simply keen to point out their shortcomings.
It just makes less and less sense with each story.
A lot of the stuff you've mentioned is a combination of ordinary military incompetence (do you remember that US destroyer crashing a few years back? That's happening in the most well-funded, capable navy in the world. Other militaries are worse), Russian doctrine (scared to fly planes = no tradition of SEAD/DEAD, no doctrinal requirement, etc), and the fact that this war is not really the kind of war the Russian military is designed for.
That's part of why it's all so surprising. People didn't think the invasion would take place because it's a bad idea for the Russians.
If you consider that a military is like a very big, too-big-to-fail company, with marginally worse-than-average pathologies for that kind of organization, except when disasters happen, people die and it's plastered all over the news by a very unsympathetic media, you can probably imagine why the Russian military is looking the way it does. My takeaway is essentially that the Russian military performance is exactly what you would expect for an organization that size, in a country like Russia, doing something very difficult against determined opposition.
Just before the invasion, French military intelligence told Macron that Russia wouldn't invade, because Russian military capabilities were not sufficient.
"The report is rife with what now are obvious red flags that the Bush White House oversold the case for war. It asserts that Iraq had an active chemical weapons program at one point, though it admits that the CIA had found no evidence of the program’s continuation."
I am not. Those, like me, that are following the conflict in detail, have overcome the disbelief you're struggling with. I knew before the invasion that Russia was about to fill YouTube will hundreds of blown up tanks just based on the number of Javelins I knew were already present in theater, but what has happened has exceeded all expectations.
Two weeks ago Ukraine began attacking Snake Island. They used Bayraktar UAVs to systematically destroy all of the air defense equipment Russia placed on that rock, publishing video of these attacks in almost real time. Response? Send in a top commander in an MI-8 in full view of the UAVs and zero air cover. Destroyed on landing. Send in assault craft with zero air cover. 2 destroyed and the third chased off. Now they're sending in more equipment -- respawning like NPCs in a video game.
Similarly, last week Russia tried a (minor) river crossing with two battalions of men and armor. They stacked it all up waiting for pontoon bridges to be deployed and delivered a perfect target to Ukrainian forces. They did this under the surveillance of NATO satellites and Ukraine's drone surveillance. Result? 50+ armored vehicles and men annihilated by 1970's artillery.
This is every day. Every. Single. Day. Ukraine pulverizes some chunk of the Russian military that is so farcically inept that they are unaware of basic knowledge about the conditions of this conflict and apparently incapable of learning or adapting to it.
You are observing epic dysfunction in action. Proof that corruption and cognitive dissonance are fatal.
And it's going to get much, much worse. The advanced heavy weapons that Ukraine has received are only just now starting to appear in the front lines. M777A2s started limited operation a few days ago. By the end of May they'll have batteries of these firing. PzH 2000 is weeks away yet. Ceaser still later. Gabriel V/Blue Spear anti-ship missiles are on the horizon. They've just now adapted Brimstone missiles to launch from what is effectively an ice cream van. And the Russians are and will do absolutely nothing to anticipate or adapt to any of this.
-We see a lot of Russian bad decisions and result of that decisions but never Ukrainian. That should you make you stop and think.
-If you look only to the maps, and not the news, it's not obvious that the war is going so well for Ukraine, despise they have logistic and intelligence support from NATO.
I could be wrong, but that makes me think that we are the target of a marketing operation.
a) I think we're realizing that the marketing operation was 70 years of "Russia is scary strong". Reality is Russia is really bad at fighting armies and great at brutalizing civilians.
b) The preponderance of evidence is that Russia has made a long string of really, really bad decisions at all levels. It is so bad that they should consider playing Yakety Sax when they pass in review.
c) The fact is Russia should have taken all of Ukraine by now given the asset and manpower advantage they have. The fact they haven't achieved air dominance, have lost major capital ships to a country that effectively has no navy and are being beat by forces largely using less of the same equipment plus is just mystifying. It wasn't that many years ago that the Russian and Ukrainian army were the same Soviet army.
Whether it was a marketing campaign or not the USSR military was scary strong until it began its collapse along with the union in the 80s.
The same is surely true for any military of any country, but if you actually study the history of the Cold War in depth and detail, there are reasons to believe that USSR military has been hyped well beyond the real capabilities, even at its peak in 60's. Hyped not just by the Union, but by other countries as well, due to various reasons (internal funding, just to name and example; Swedish military in particular was very persistent in this and kept this strawman to fund its MIC well into 2010s).
The idea that conquering another nation through military means should be quick seems to come out from time to time (not just for this war). I wonder if that has ever happened.
Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia took Poland in 37 days (people forget that the Soviets and Nazis were allied at the beginning of WWII and had an agreement to split Poland). The Nazis alone took Netherlands in four days, and Belgium in 18 days.
b) No doubt about that, starting by invading.
c) I'm not sure about the manpower advantage. What are the numbers? And Ukraine is fighting in its own territory with unlimited intelligence and supply support from the richest countries in the world. We shouldn't forget about that.
The whole government (or maybe a specific chancellor from a party with a history of ties to Putin ...) is still dragging its feet and only slowly coming around. It still feels a bit like they want Ukraine to lose already so they can finally stop caring about it.
But without all that intel from US and NATO, including almost real-time satellite data and location of high value targets.
>> “We did not provide Ukraine with specific targeting information for the Moskva,”
"Don't look at LAT XXX LOG YYY, don't send drones there, don't have some missiles ready"
And your comparative is kind of unfair. I mean, the war is kind of stuck, with all the support from NATO. Imagine how it would go without external support.
It really bothers me being "that guy", because I have not special love for Putin and its band of kleptocrats, but come on, let's have a little of critical thinking. Or do you think that the USA support of Ukraine is for "defending freedom"?
Like you said, Russia hasn't mobilised, but they wouldn't start a war they thought they wouldn't win so the fact they haven't mobilised and invaded anyway shows poor intelligence and lack of judgement. The fact Russia didn't mobilise isn't evidence of Russia secretly been good actually, it's more evidence of incompetence.
And clearly Russia hasn't sent its entire military but since their military is much larger than Ukraine's they can pick the units and equipment most suitable for the mission, where Ukraine just has to use everything, regular military, reservists, paramilitaries, and in many cases volunteers with literally hours of training. So even if the numbers are similar the advantage would still be with Russia.
No matter how you try to paint it Russia had nearly every advantage yet still managed to largely stall in just three days and experience huge losses doing it. It is blindingly clear the Russian military is doing a very incompetent job and it takes some very motivated reasoning to begin to argue otherwise.
It's not just enough to call for critical thinking, you actually have to practice it.
The cost to do this when the island will likely continue to flip flop in control is callous military incompetence.
You don't need to believe propaganda, just look at the map of the invasion and ask yourself how is it possible that a far superior military on paper is losing so badly.
From the $billions that the war is costing the west, to millions of Ukrainian refugees, to developing grim shortages of many things which Russia and Ukraine were major exporters of, to surging inflation & other economic effects, to the short attention spans of western news/hype cycles, to regular elections which most pro-Ukraine western leaders are facing in the next year or so...
"Win via attrition" is probably too optimistic a phrase. But it would be pretty realistic for Russia to say "our least-bad option is to keep fighting, because our enemies' situations will deteriorate faster than our own".
This was many years ago (10? 15?), but I have no reason to think the attitude behind what I describe have changed.
I went on a walk not far from the Kremlin in early evening. Lots and lots of cars on the wintery multi-lane streets in the center of Moscow.
For no reason whatsoever, on many major crossings with four lanes or more, when the other side had to stop because of red light the cars started occupying the opposing lanes(!!!). Yes, the ones for the traffic from the opposite direction, the one that would be needed a minute later when the traffic lights changed colors.
Of course, this lead to total gridlock, because that happened on both sides. So, the started to also use the side walk(!?), for even more standstill gridlock.
There they stood, and I saw this on several major crossings in the city center, facing one another, and no way to untangle this idiotic situation because nobody could move forward any more.
There was no reason for any of this. Police did nothing. It happened every evening that I watched.
Why on earth would you block the lanes for the opposite direction? Even assuming complete selfishness and disregard for others and accepting it, how could one possibly think that would help one get ahead faster? You could see the cars waiting on the other side of the traffic light, the ones whose path you are now blocking.
I feel as much about how Big SV Corps get forward, by externalising little bits of shit that the rest of society has to wipe off its collective face. Looking at you, Amazon.
Consider how nonsensical your comparison really is. The problem in question appears in Russia, a place where the largest official political alternative to Putin is the former Communist party. It's the opposite of a libertarian country. Places like New Hampshire or even relatively non libertarian places like the UK on the other hand, simply can't imagine behaviour like that. It's the whole reason it's an interesting anecdote to begin with.
Consider one guy with a sniper rifle running around the countryside. He's not going to be anything more than a minor annoyance to an invading army. Provide him with real-time intel on the exact location and vulnerabilities of high-value targets, and he's now a serious threat. Extrapolate that to the entire Ukrainian armed forces.
There are also countless videos from the war showing Russia’s military is full of people more incompetent than even the most ridiculous propaganda could ever make us believe. I’ve seen loads of tanks and Russians getting blown up in ridiculous ways and I’m really not even going out of my way to search for it.
They are certainly extremely incompetent, no question about that.
Just ask any person in any army in the West. I talked with some of them. Nobody gave two cents for Ukraine against Russia, because Russia on paper was so overwhelmingly superior.
Specially the US believed Ukraine had no chance against Russia and did not want to send free weapons to Russia(after they defeat the Ukrainians and took their weapons).
Everybody was shocked and surprised by the sheer incompetence of that army. I have a friend that is Colonel in a NATO country and even today is shocked and say they find it very hard not to underestimate them after what we are seeing.
Obviously Ukrainians are not going to show their tanks blowing up on youtube, but the offensive should be already over if the Russians were competent at all.
For example, is it 100 soldiers refusing to fight, or 100,000? The former is noise, the latter is an actual problem.
Remember the flag burning photos they used to regularly show in the middle East?
It always looked like a huge crowd, but I remember seeing the regular photos and eventually realizing it was often a tiny crowd of people.
It might only be 20 extremists that the camera was tightly focused on. They often had the camera zoomed in and low to the ground and slightly pointed up so you couldn't clearly see how empty the area was.
And that was a natural consequence of the photographer/TV crew wanting to make money.
They wanted to make it look really packed/busy because it sells more pictures/attracts more viewers.
I’m afraid this subthread is an example of HNers being too clever by half. Sometimes the simple narrative that you find in major media outlets is the truth. It’s honestly quite interesting to see the mental gymnastics that people have to engage in to somehow convince themselves that this war is going well for Russia - and not because they support Russia, but merely because they hate the idea of agreeing with the New York Times.
There have been several major, heavily hyped stories about the war so far that just weeks later were admitted to be deliberate lies to booster Ukrainian morale. The Ghost of Kiev and his many kills: never existed. The "fuck you Russian battleship" guy who turned out to be captured, not heroically self sacrificed. Etc. These events weren't mere exaggerations, they were entirely made up.
Given this it's pretty reasonable for rational people to assume we have no idea how the war is going. After all, for every made up Russian kill that gets detected there must be many more that don't. And the same in the opposite direction with Russian state media of course.
They were also completely inconsequential stories as far as the overall progress of the war is concerned. You're cherry picking some incomplete or inaccurate stories then using these as a (poor) justification for disbelieving well-confirmed facts about Russian losses.
A sunk battleship is a sunk battleship, no doubt about that. And I certainly haven't heard any reports claiming the Russian attack is going well.
But the first time I heard a "top general" had been killed, my mind naturally went to generals I've heard of - the MacArthurs and Zhukovs of this world. If instead it was a one-star general and the Russians have 200 other generals just as capable, the loss might be far less consequential.
There are also a lot of figures floating around that are ripe for causing such confusion. Javelin missiles have a 90-95% kill rate; Ukraine has received 17,000 antitank missiles and says they need 500 per day; any yet, only 400 russian tanks have been destroyed in total?
One can still hope and wish for a free Ukraine while doing it with our eyes open. You can read the news while being aware of the bias in the media.
In future, just don't ask the question if you don't want to hear the truth. The only mental gymnastics going on is you reading far too much into people attempting to answer your question.
What I'd really like to know is what people who believe that the Russian military has acted competently believe about the situation on the ground. Do they think, for example, that Russia is actually in control of large areas of Ukraine and is making significant advances? Do they think that Zelenski is close to capitulating? Or do they somehow believe that the Russian armed forces have failed to achieve all of their strategic goals and yet not actually been incompetent?
Hell, just looking at Putin's facial expressions tells you as much, and that's just one tiny piece of information.
A little bit of selection bias doesn't mean that the signal disappears.
The British, of course, went on to trounce the Argentines.
Specific facts which are true themselves but have their significance wildly misrepresented (either through the ignorance of journalists or manipulativeness of military media personnel) to partisan media are very common forms of wartime propaganda. Ships are generally considered thought to be easy to sink with the right ordnance when parked along a coast, and it is not uncommon for a military we consider relatively incompetent to be able to sink some of those owned by a G7 power.
Also, the Russians have had plenty of time to read the board of enquiry report on the sinking of HMS Sheffield. The same mistakes shouldn’t be repeated again.
To say that the British came very close to losing marks you as a victim of that wartime propaganda. Sinking that single ship, the Sheffield, caused Argentina to lose 30% of their jets. At that rate, at most, they could have sunk two more ships if they were lucky. When you look at the basic realities of materiel exchange it becomes comical to ever suggest that the British were ever at a disadvantage, but here we are decades later and the idea that the British were ever so close to losing a water war against Argentina is still in people's heads. Quod erat demonstrandum!
If the British were prepared to lose some ships over something as economically and tactically insignificant as the Falkland Islands, what will Russia be willing to lose to not have a NATO supply line run straight up to a massive land border marching distance from Belgorod?
Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania are NATO members. Russia already has that massive land border on the west, marching distance from Saint Petersburg.
I don't believe what Russian officials are saying about their justifications and goals is true. Russians are simply trying to expand their empire, like they were doing for centuries.
The Ukrainian border is over 2200 with dozens.
Maybe Russia is simply doing as you say, I have no comment on that and cannot peer into the inscrutable psyche of Russian elites to know for a fact that they would have still invaded had there been no NATO expansion, but the assertion that the Baltics are strategically equivalent to Ukraine in a NATO-Russia conflict is laughable nonsense.
I love Ukraine and its people and am heavily personally invested in the future of the country. My children are Ukrainian citizens. When people say things that are basely untrue it does not help promote quick conflict resolution or prevent further bloodshed. Circulating falsehoods doesn't help anyone.
The most efficient shipping method is by sea, the fastest one is by air. The importance of that chokepoint is debatable.
Flying distance to Moscow is different but not substantially so, 450 versus 600 km.
There's nothing too important in Belgorod or Rostov, while Saint Petersburg is 2-nd most populated city, and has industries related to the military.
Historically, Russian governments also viewed these places as strategically important. They annexed these lands by force, twice: after the Great Northern War of 1700–1721, then once again after WW2.
Ukraine, on the other hand, doesn’t belong to Russia. If Russia invade Ukraine to prevent NATO at their border, they now have a much longer of that border to protect. They also have to spread their force to fight the insurgency within Ukraine. Finally, Finland now decide to join NATO because of the invasion, exposing Russia to a much bigger threat.
I doubt Russia didn’t see any of those scenarios before they decided to invade Ukraine, so no, it doesn’t make sense to do it because of NATO expansion. Rather, Russia consider Ukraine part of their influence sphere and can’t accept the fact that Ukraine’s people don’t want to be under their manipulation. Russia want to go back to their glory past. Not to mention the resource Ukraine would bring to the empire. NATO is just an excuse.
>At that rate, at most, they could have sunk two more ships if they were lucky
And how many aircraft carriers did the UK deploy to the Falklands? Two :) Just sinking one carrier would have required the withdrawal of the task force. As Admiral Woodward put it, "the Argentinian commanders failed inexplicably to realize that if they had hit either of our aircraft carriers, the British would have been finished."
At the start of the war, Russia knew that Ukraine had an anti-ship missile in development but not ready for deployment, so they didn't take precautions. Clearly, the Ukrainian missile developers put in some overtime. After the Moskva strike, Russia bombed the missile factory and moved their ships farther out.
Argentina was the aggressor, and thought (as did most of the world) that the British would not be able to do anything about the invasion.
No one was surprised that Argentina sunk the Sheffield - what surprised the world was how badly Argentina ran the war. Argentina had more and better air power (I recall it was on the order of 50 or so Harriers vs. 122 Argentine aircraft), but failed to use it to achieve anything that resembled air superiority.
> Ships are generally considered thought to be easy to sink with the right ordnance when parked along a coast, and it is not uncommon for a military we consider relatively incompetent to be able to sink some of those owned by a G7 power.
I think it is pretty uncommon to read about a warship being sunk. Modern navies tend to fight at stand-off distances and use layered defenses, where a large ship isn't unescorted, especially when in range of shore based defenses.
If you are interested in some backstory on the Moskva, Michael Kofman covers some in an interview. It seems to be true that two Ukrainian missiles struck it and it sank sometime later, but the rest of the story is uncertain. Kofman describes the Moskva as an antiquated rust bucket, with its defensive systems likely not even functional.
Fire sinks ships. In WWII most ships that went to the bottom didn't blow up. They caught on fire, and eventually, sank or were scuttled. If Moskva wasn't ready to fight, was defenseless, or even sea-worthy, what does it say about leadership to put it in range of anti-ship missiles? Finally, the story on Moskva is that it was sunk by a country that barely has a Navy.
You know, that is the kind of truth that actually adds to the story of how bad Russia is doing rather than mitigating that story. Unless that wasn't their flagship (in that fleet), but I never saw that part of the narrative disputed.
Propaganda works by selecting some facts and amplifying them, all the while hiding others. Note how Ukrainian military losses are never reported, for example. Photos of destroyed Russian tanks are all over the place, but not a single photo of destroyed Ukrainian equipment. The coverage is very selective to paint a specific picture.
That was because after the soldiers said that the feed got cut off and Ukraine didn't hear back from the soldiers until Russia said they were captured. So up until as it was revealed they were captured, the worst was assumed.
>but not a single photo of destroyed Ukrainian equipment
There are many photos like this, did you even bother to look?
Oryx's blog for example has 1,040 photos of destroyed/captured Ukrainian equipment
Tolerating propaganda from friendly sources who are at war is hardly asking to be deceived.
Not in the mainstream press.
The mere fact that Ukraine still is not occupied by Russia tells you pretty much everything you need to know.
Brotherly, but not in equal sense. More like stupid little brother that can't take care of himself.
It is widely known that Russians, for some reason, consider themselves superior out of all Eastern Europe Slavs.
The stupid (or rather gullible/inane) angle is a fairly recent government spin to justify the aggression.
> The stupid (or rather gullible/inane) angle is a fairly recent government spin to justify the aggression.
By "recent" you mean since imperial time?
LOL? It's not like 18 y.o. are significantly older, but claiming they are 16?
>> which is mandatory for all male citizens ages 18–27, with a number of exceptions
You can just copy-paste that comment for virtually every army out there. Ukraine is holding up because it is massively supplied with modern weapons that they never had in the first place by foreign powers: this is clearly a proxy war, not a bunch of peasants pushing back well-armed Russians.
Western intelligence was expecting Russians to capture Kyiv within several days of the war 
Therefore, western countries refused to supply heavy weapons. They remember the 7 billion of military equipment they supplied to Afghanistan 
I’m not sure what you’re getting at with the rest of your comment. Yes, Ukraine has Western aid. That doesn’t negate Russian incompetence or mean that Russia is somehow actually winning. For example, it doesn’t explain how the Moskva was unable to defend itself against a small number of current-generation sea-skimming missiles (a threat that’s been around for at least a couple of decades).
Remember, the Russian invasion already happened when they marched into the Crimea. This is just a continuation.
that is very likely the case, because the Ukrainians have lied before and afterwards about similar ships
check out the talk pages. each ship was confirmed to have been sunk by some authorities and had a highly detailed account of the event published by some media
I think the truth is the Russians are not doing great and we're exaggerating their failures.
There are just so many things one takes for granted in Western democracies which are just not so in a place like Russia. Nothing really works as it should, not public institutions, not private institutions, army, judges or anything else.
Throughout my life I've seen plenty of things which I thought were normal at the time, but make me cringe now. A few brief examples, I can expand on all of them:
- policemen bribed with a raw steak out of the trunk
- doctors who wouldn't treat you without a bribe
- teachers who'd fail unless you went for "private tutoring"
- whole neighbourhoods built without a permit
- nepotism in public/private institutions to the point where whole departments are basically just friends/family
- public/private jobs which are only available for a fee to the right person (e.g. in order to become a nurse, you need to pay X 2000 EUR)
- skipping queues/processes (e.g. getting a passport) by bribes or knowing the right person
- faking official documents in pretty much any circumstance if it's easier for any party involved
- many others that I can't think of right now
In these places everything is solved with a small bribe. It's required and expected and just the way it works. Things have changed since the EU and all, but everyone who grew up in Eastern Europe knows what I'm talking about.
So while I expected the Russian army to be more capable, hearing that they're selling petrol out of their vehicles and don't know how to operate their tanks doesn't even make me raise an eyebrow.
It's easier to defend than attack, it's easier to defend with gigantic Western support via weapons and information, Ukrainians actually understand what they're fighting for and so on.
I was recently back home in my Eastern European country and saw LOADS of young Ukrainian men in flashy cars driving through my city, while men are supposedly not allowed to leave the country.
There is no black or white.
Since Zelesnky became president, they've started improving. For example https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Diia.
Means what the corruption is still there. It can't just vanish with a new president.
> they've started improving
Well, good for them? But how that would help to counter the corruption and mentality of doing things off the table?
And AFAIK Russia did it since 2010 I think.
If you mean degrading into authoritarian state without any opposition, with absurd level of censorship and general gaslighting of population - then yes.
I'm Ukrainian, and unfortunately familiar with reality of Soviet/post-Soviet organization systems. Before 2014, the word "army" was a joke. Army was a place for those who couldn't make it into universities. Most of the time soldiers were working in fields or building mansions for generals. It all changed after 2014, of course.
But in russia it's been much worse. Historically russia tried to keep army low-status, so it can't pose risks to the ruling class (communist party in USSR, and FSB in post-Soviet russia). Thieves-in-law are higher in the russian power hierarchy, for example. Consider these news (google-translated links):
- Russian conscripts are forced into gay prositution 
- Thieves imposed a tribute on russian military base in Kemerovo 
Aren't there the same 'corruption and misaligned incentive structures' in China, yet they seem to be doing rather better?
One thing I took away from a recent Econtalk episode was that the minds of the Russians are not our minds. I didn't grow up in a post/soviet state. I didn't have to deal with that kleptocracy. I am not the commander of thousands of nuclear warheads. My mind is not their mind.
One good and easy vector that I have is the twitter account of the 'Tires Guy' that was popular briefly in the early part of the war . Trent's continuing insights to the conflict, mostly from a logistics perspective, have been good for me to understand the war and the motivations behind the decisions. He brings in a lot of conflicting voices, history, and other media too. He is open about the fact that he can only see white propaganda and tries to balance that out when the data comes in.
Trent's insights on the Syrian conflict, unfortunately, seem to indicate that the Russians are likely to 'lose' the war, but just go on fighting it anyway (again, their mind is not my mind).
I'd give the guy a follow if you'd like to stay up to date on the conflict. It may take a week or more to grok though, so be prepared to be patient.
It wouldn't be the first war that Russia got involved in that went badly for them. They only won WW II because of massive amounts of supplies from the US. Very much like the Ukraine is currently being supplied. And of course Afghanistan comes to mind. Russia was there in the 1980s.The US was supplying all sorts of goodies to the Taliban. I saw Rambo III (speaking of propaganda that did not age well).
Of course there's a bit of more recent history in that particular country where the US also got some egg on their face. As a matter of fact, that ended last year after two decades of boots on the ground. The US finally walked away after two decades of throwing their weight around without achieving a victory.
Anyway, you could ask the same questions you are asking about Russia in that context. And of course people have. But it still happened. Yes there is propaganda; but there are also facts on the ground, and lots of bad decision making, bad intel, bureaucratic inertia etc.
I know people from the Ukraine. I run into refugees here in Berlin on a daily basis. I'm sure it's all a bit abstract and distant for you. But it sure feels awfully close and real to me. Nothing that drives the point home of a war than seeing actual people just trying to find a safe place to stay for their families. All I have to do to see that is take a ten minute walk to the main train station here in Berlin.
Their military is like a headless chicken if you take out those in command. Compare that to a more decentralized, guerrilla-military operation from Ukraine, and you have the results we’re seeing.
I have no doubt that what we see here in the west is an inaccurate and one-sided view, but I think there’s still a clear enough picture that Russia is reaping what they’ve sown.
"We have information that Putin felt misled by the Russian military, which has resulted in persistent tension between Putin and his military leadership," Kate Bedingfield, White House communications director, told reporters during a press briefing.
"We believe that Putin is being misinformed by his advisers about how badly the Russian military is performing and how the Russian economy is being crippled by sanctions because his senior advisors are too afraid to tell him the truth," she said.
(Also, the stories from folks who served in the Czechoslovak Army back then border with the incredible)
See also: the Capitol insurrection that was taken extremely seriously, even though many of the people were just straight-up morons
Not against modern weapons.
It's simply that you can't take a country of 44 million with 100 thousand soldiers.
What the heck were they thinking?
No, it doesn't make sense by western standards. But this is as much as anything a clash of network topologies - hierarchy vs mesh. Our tolerance for constant debates and internecine arguing doesn't make any sense to them either, if that's any consolation. They think we´re stupid to tolerate it, when it's so much easier and simpler for everybody to just follow the vision of the one true leader. To their death.
What communism was about in Russia was taken the best people at every single sector in Russia and just exterminating them. In the 1930s over 50% of Dombass engineers were put out of work!
Most of them were later killed. Anyone that had the minimum entrepreneurial spirit(kulaks) was exterminated. Their children could not study on public school, they became pariahs even without access to food.
Their families were humiliated and deported to the other side of Russia.
Over 50% of the economy was the military and police State to control the population that naturally reveled. When workers did strike, the Soviets took hostage of their families, then after the strikes were over the leaders were killed.
Merchants, unions and the Church were also exterminated. All communities gone so nobody could go against the power.
With Putin all the power remained in the KGB, Putin came from it, all the oligarchs were Putin's friends from the KGB. The Church leader was also a member of the KGB.
Ukraine by the way has the same History, the same System and corruption as Russia by the way, but they are fighting for their land, and have the support and training of the West.
Millions of Ukrainians died from starvation with the Soviets while Stalin exported grain. It was on purpose against peasants as punishment.
Americans admire successful people. Russia culture is the polar opposite. Think for a moment about that.
All of those things seem true, but Ukraine has so few forces and Russia has so many, that it kinda balances out.
And this is not highly trained and motivated Israeli fighting a desperate force a generation or two below their tech. Ukrainians seem to be on par, but russians look to be way more able than the Arab alliances from those past wars.
At the start of the war their tech was comparable, and the new weapons poring out of the west are only now reaching frontlines.
Russians are loosing slowly - the failed Kiev offensive is a proof enough of that, its just they have such a strong media clamp down that their people are not exactly aware of how bad things are for them, well nobody knows _really_ right now but it does keep morale high.
And Putin can’t really afford a “graceful loss” - he needs a win, and I think he’s banking on the west not being able to stay coherent for a long enough time, and to wear down the enemy slowly. It’s not without precedent and authoritarian regimes are considered more stable through war than democracies, let alone abstract things like the EU.
I wouldn't be surprised that once the $40 billion "Ukraine bill" gets approved as one last big tax payer slush fund for western elites, the message will change real quick how the Ukrainians fought like brave lions against the Russian asiatic hordes.
But the Russian asiatic hordes were just too much, how the Russians used human wave attack, while reality russia is fighting a Ukrainian force that is 2~3 times the size of the Russians fighting forces.
Russia isn’t a great power. It’s a nuisance that now, thankfully, falls almost solely to Beijing go manage. Yet we keep pretending it’s a real threat, the real crime herein.
Now within Europe the next most capable NATO army is the polish army which is even worse equipped than the Ukrainian one. As a person that still lives in the EU its kinda worrying to see the Russian chew through the EU NATO best regional armies as if it's just a sweaty warming up.
Regarding Russias great power status i don't agree they are a great power and one that isn't even that limited regionally seen, they are active in the middle east, north Africa and central Asia they are just not a super power like the US and China.
Russians are fighting NATO troops now? You have a source for that?
edit: I know I shouldn't be engaging in this as refuting nonsense like this takes more effort than creating it.
Russia would already be in pieces if it wasn't for nuclear weapons.
Yeah Ukrainian army is one of the better equipped and manned army of NATO. Hell turkey is the second biggest NATO army after the US. Germany as a army is non existing reason why they need this $100 billion to bootstrap their rearmament program and the yearly 2% GDP to keep up to standards.
How many soldiers, under who's command?
> and people wonder how the holocaust could happen in Europe during ww2.
Weak strawman, try harder.
> Yeah Ukrainian army is one of the better equipped and manned army of NATO. Hell turkey is the second biggest NATO army after the US.
Ukraine isn't part of NATO, what are you even talking about?
> Germany as a army is non existing reason why they need this $100 billion to bootstrap their rearmament program and the yearly 2% GDP to keep up to standards.
it's far worse than that. even volkssturm conscripts are being sent to the frontlines. it's everything that Ukraine has - which is a lot in a country of 40-something million people, against a contingent of 150-200 thousand men
This is not the reality though. At the start of the war at least, Russian troops count exceeded Ukrainian ones by a factor of 2 if not more.
With right goal post shifting and creative definitions of "fighting force" you may be able to show that Ukrainians are a larger force.
Then there is this thing as reality. On actual battlefields Russians outnumber Ukrainians.
Go and have yourself some democracy for a century or two, and learn the concept of nuance and compromise.
Like I said, learn nuance.
Their problem is that the Russian military has an ongoing history of not fighting against militaries—it’s not their focus. They fight against civilians. The Soviet period was endless murder of their own people. Endless atrocities were committed in Afghanistan. Massacres and rapes against civilians in African countries are reported with disturbing frequency. Ukraine is following that exact script.
There’s no longer much of a worry of a prolonged war being beneficial to Russia. It’s that they’re just going to increasingly terrorize civilian targets and further expand their genocidal tactics. Rape and massacres of civilians are already being reported in huge numbers. It’s going to expand. Macron probably thinks Russia will just stop doing it if they’re allowed to have a nibble of Ukraine, but Ukraine knows they’ll just keep doing it until they’re driven out entirely.
I submitted the story with its original title:
> Russian troops are proving that cell phones in war zones are a very bad idea
The HN code auto-corrected this in a most amazing way:
> Roops are proving that cell phones in war zones are a very bad idea
I was on mobile and tried to make the obvious correction to that, but missed a letter! And now the edit deadline has expired. Ah well.
This proves that with a combination of human and machine intelligence, anything can go wrong!
@dang If you see this, I wonder if you could fix my typo, and also in your copious free time figure out how the original title got corrected to "Roops"? :-)
(I've done so in this case.)
It does emphasise something I have been saying for a while - privacy is the politeness of your neighbours, and secrecy is dead.
Fitness app Strava lights up staff at military bases - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-42853072.amp (Jan 2018).
Strava exposed unmarked US bases since soldiers were using the app for fitness tracking, and suddenly unexpected parts of the globe had activity in their heat map that Strava chose to publish.
Fiber isn't hard to find. The aerial stuff is unmistakable (snowshoes or other slack-loop storage). The buried stuff has conductive marker tape, like the stuff used for locating buried power lines but with a different resonant frequency.
It can't be that hard to find the few fiber optic arteries into/outof the next city they want to crap all over and cut each trunk once.
Would love to know why this hasn't been done. Obviously I would not make a good general.
Edit: okay, the article mentions this, claiming that the Russians don't have VHF radios, which I find to be an utterly ridiculous claim. This is 1960's (or earlier!) technology folks. Does not pass the smell test. Even if they've resorted to "civilian handheld radios", those don't need cell towers or fiber optics.
I've seen various Ukranian sources mention Starlink as a useful comms tool.
Military orders go over VHF radio, not cell networks.
I have a hard time believing that Russia is incapable of invading countries without cell towers (although it would be cool if that were true!)
> I've seen various Ukranian sources mention Starlink as a useful comms tool.
That's actually yet another reason for them to take out the fiber optics. Starlink only reaches a hundred miles or so; beyond that it needs fiber.
Apparently the Russians destroyed mobile towers despite their own encrypted phones relying on civilian 3G/4G infrastructure:
Furthermore, the level of training and education of the average Russian soldier is.. not great. Look at some of the things they did around Chernobyl for an example of their knowledge gaps. Same goes for their discipline ( low morale, poor training, corruption, encouragement of war crimes will do that).
Oh come on, VHF radio is stupid reliable. It's a war zone, so nobody's enforcing TX power limits. I don't buy this explanation. They aren't downloading multigigabyte 4k video, they're issuing combat orders. VHF has done a great job with that for decades.
If i recall correctly, their aircraft are supposed to be fitted with some high tech super encrypted communications system, but it doesn't work, which is why they use phones (with buttons).
It's not a matter of "the tech is too complex", it's more of a "the people supposed to implement/acquire/rollout this relatively basic tech pocketed the money instead".
Which need neither fiber optics nor cell towers.
Baofengs aren't actually all that bad (they're not all that good either).
Claiming that they are so poor they couldn't order a palletload of Baofengs is just so far beyond believable...
So if you think that your soldiers have this need to talk home maybe an competent army should offer them some alternatives, like some satellite phone they can use once a day and call home, you can't expect 18 years old forced to go to war to be professionals.
Why? Because letting very few to know very much about us while most of us know next to nothing about them is VERY VERY VERY bad for Democracy.
A small example: let's say you are named Alphabet or Microsoft, does not matter, and you have started to harvest data, no one can know if, how and when you do, from "remote schooling", let's say you have an in-house well developed behavioral model and you are very skilled in ads and propaganda campaigns... What stop you from identifying most skilled students for aspects of your interest and drive, an ad at a time, their interest toward you, so depriving you potential new competitors of talents, perhaps directing bad students to them? When you have essentially the complete control of all human communications because they simply happen on your platform you are not a company anymore, you are a de-facto corporate-state and your customers are your slaves.
Remember a thing: if there is no privacy for all it's ok, if there is complete privacy for all is equally ok. If we are almost all in balance it's ok, if very few hold too much all others will suffer. War is the extreme example, but it's a VERY good one, because as Carl von Clausewitz have written years ago war is just politics by other means and modern management/corporatocracy is just kind-of mock war by few against many others, against customers included, since lock-in, coercion etc pay back well.
Or just wildly inaccurate given the lack of cell phone networks at sea...
Once they are on land
There is a mildly amusing story behind this. Or perhaps I am easily amused!
Also, captured soldiers will say anything under duress, and I have yet to see a verifiable survey of captured soldiers. Relying on The words of a few soldiers is nonsense.
Before the war started, my girlfriend (Ukrainian) said she figured that if Russian soldiers came, Ukraine would just let them in in peace. She didn’t expect Russia to go ahead with an invasion in the first place, and didn’t realise war was what would be involved. Her attitude obviously very quickly changed when she saw her country was fighting back, morale is an important component of this.
It was always delusional to think west Ukraine would welcome Russia, but east Ukraine had been consuming a LOT of Russian propaganda up to the war. And when we talk about eastern Ukraine we aren’t talking about the bordering cities currently suffering heavy occupation, we are talking about the entire eastern half.
If Ukrainians themselves were thinking it, there is no question soldiers were as well. You may have seen comms of dead Russian soldiers in the early days of the war talking about this, including a sms conversation that got famous when being read out at the EU parliament.
> my girlfriend (Ukrainian) said
> comms of <some> dead Russian soldiers in the early days of the war talking about this,
> including a sms conversation
So a girlfriend, some comms, and an sms conversation prove the attitude and expectations of an entire military force and their leaders?
But, if you are determined to not believe, because I dont know why ...
And recently Arestovych said that the first days of the invasion a lot of saboteurs and assassination squads were in Kiev trying to topple the government.
Of course you can't believe everything the Ukrainians say either, I just think it's pure propaganda from Putin when he said the Ukrainians would welcome Russia as liverators.
it was a cognitive bias, thinking too much about how and why it could/should work instead of looking at why it couldn't (eg. because the strong selection effect of the repressed political activities of Moscow versus Ukraine, plus the strong rose tinted glasses he and many Russians have that color everything positive that seems like the old Russian Empire, whereas Slavic people a thousands of kilometers away have a rather different view of how great that is and was.)
I'm pretty sure Russians understand that not all of Ukraine is pro-Russian.
and Putin likely counted on at least some support from some parts of the population in Ukraine. as evidenced by their plan of quick victory, and that the Ukrainian government will collapse, and it will be easy to install a puppet government. just as Janukovic was relatively popular some years ago