As the reader might already imagine, I’ve been pretty busy thanks to yesterday’s business in Muni- I mean, Minsk. Thus today’s entry will be a compilation of various themes and topics I’ve been reading up on in the past couple of days. Enjoy.
So if you’ve read the Minsk agreement(English text here), you notice that the second point is the one about the removal of heavy weapons from the front line, specifically artillery greater than 100mm and the multiple rocket launch systems which have caused so much civilian bloodshed on both sides. What is interesting is that the document actually specifies the rocket launcher systems which are to be removed by name. Of those, one of them is known as the “Tornado-M.” Uhhhh…Yeah. About that…
Oops indeed. Of course if you bring this up with vatniks, they’ll just continue to piss on your leg and tell you it’s raining. that’s what they do.
Belarus devises new method for dealing with Kremlin propaganda
When he’s not messing with Putin by pulling his chair out from under him, Belorussian president and “Last Swagmaster in Europe” Aleksandr Lukashenko is always devising new ways to troll his Eurasian neighbor. One of Lukashenko’s bodyguards chose yesterday’s occasion to demonstrate a new technique aimed at countering Russian state-media propaganda. Recently politicians in the EU and some media analysts have been discussing ways to counter Russian propaganda. While they talk, Belarus acts.
The best thing about this technique is that it works on any Kremlin media hack. Russia Today, NTV, Lifenews. No problem! Could you imagine someone doing that to Dmitry Kiselyev?
Kiselyev: “Tonight I want to tell you about how European parents teach their kids to read with pornographic comi-MMMMMMPHHHHHHHHHHRRRRRMRHHHHHHHMMMMMMM!”
Belorussian secret service man: “Sssshhhhh! Sssshhhhh! It’s okay. It’s just a coincidence. Nothing but a coincidence. Shhhhh!”
Why arming Ukraine is a bad idea
It seems everybody has to have their article about why arming Ukraine is a bad idea and therefore we should let Putin have whatever he wants because nuclear war, blah blah blah.
Realistically, if NATO decided to launch a campaign against the rebels, claiming that they now acknowledge Russia’s non-involvement in the insurgency, Russia wouldn’t actually do anything besides maybe try to pull their people out as fast as possible and thus speeding up the collapse of the separatist territories. Beyond that Putin, Lavrov, and the rest of the circus would just stamp their feet and howl until their own people decide to overthrow them because they can no longer ignore the reality that Putin has made Russia weak. Instead, the West decides not to call Putin’s bluff when he has so stupidly stretched out his hand and practically begged for it to be cut off.
Of course a military campaign isn’t the same as arming the ramshackle force that is the Ukrainian army. In this case, advocates for arming Ukraine seem to be making the same mistake many Russians do about military technology, namely that it is only as good as its user. Handing a Javelin anti-tank missile to a Ukrainian conscript with three months of basic training isn’t going to turn him into a deadly tank hunter.
To use a more extended example, if you spend a lot of time on the internet, no doubt you’ve had the displeasure of witnessing one of those idiotic M16 vs. AK-47 debates. These debates are idiotic for a number of reasons, one being that virtually no standing armies in existence use “M16’s” or “AK-47s.” One of the most idiotic arguments you’ll inevitably see in one of these debates is that the M16 is more accurate than the AK. Now technically this is true, if you’re on a firing range. But imagine that a couple years ago the US Army and Marine Corps made a deal with the Taliban to swap weapons for a few months. The Taliban gets the souped up M4’s with all the bells and whistles, the FN SCAR’s, the HK 416’s, and the soldiers and marines get old AKMs, including those knockoff Khyber Pass models. Do you suppose we’d suddenly see the ratio of small arms kills switch? Of course not. The accuracy of Kalashnikov assault rifles is adequate for the ranges at which small arms combat typically takes place, i.e. less than 300 meters.You put an M4 in the hands of someone who will flip on burst and empty the magazine, barely taking aim, and that weapon won’t seem too accurate at all. Put a classic AKM in the hands of someone who has been taught the fundamentals of marksmanship and whose superiors have the resources to let him burn through hundreds if not thousands of rounds to qualify and re-qualify every six months with the same weapon, and you’ll find that the Kalashnikov is indeed accurate enough.
My point here is that Ukraine’s army has a problem with people, not weapons. They are resorting to conscription and jailing journalists who question it. The country still suffers from severe corruption and is run by oligarchs. The strongest ideas around which a people could unite are, in the case of Ukraine, mostly terrible and only continue to alienate ordinary people in the separatist-occupied territories. In other words, either the US and NATO go in there and do something about the separatists with their own armies, or they are just going to waste millions of dollars on weapons which will no doubt fall into the hands of Russia’s forces very quickly.
I count myself among those who aren’t particularly happy with this new Minsk deal, which looks like a capitulation to Putin’s aims. That being said, I’m wondering why the Kremlin media and their army of bots and trolls aren’t celebrating right now. Given the fact that we’re talking about a community of propagandists who will spin things such as the plummeting ruble and sanctions, one wonders why they don’t seem to be currently engaged in furious masturbatory ecstasy. It makes you wonder if we’re all missing something here. In any case, it’s obviously too early to rush to judgement before the ceasefire has taken place.
Very soon we will see the first anniversary of Viktor Yanukovych’s cowardly skedaddle on 22 February. Even Russians are marking the occasion, judging by this totally grass-roots funded billboard on a major street in Moscow that I photographed this morning.
Yesterday I ran across two interesting articles on Maidan, one from BBC and the other from Channel 4. The former looks into who started shooting on Maidan first, the police or possibly some protesters. It also shows how conspiracy theories abound on both sides of the story. The latter article is about the far right influence in Maidan, but it is far more balanced than most articles on that topic. I’m including these because I always like to shatter this Kremlin narrative about the “information war.” The Western media was certainly biased when it came to Maidan, and in light of the West’s behavior toward Ukraine since the war started this was a terribly irresponsible move on their part. However, anyone who actually spent time following the coverage of Maidan would have noted that issues like the presence of nationalism in the movement were in fact covered and discussed. When have we ever seen anything resembling that sort of balance from RT, the Russian press in general, or any of its affiliated blogs and websites? Plenty of Western journalists have been accused of being Kremlin stooges for reporting on civilian victims of Ukraine’s Anti-Terrorist Operation, while pro-Kremlin media won’t even admit to the separatists’ complicity in the shelling of Mariupol.
Voice over epilogue
This isn’t really related to Minsk, but yesterday I wrote about how I lost 12,000 rubles because I declined to do a voice over job for a “documentary” which casts Europeans as gender-bending sex-fiends. As an update, I just want to point out that I haven’t received any reply whatsoever from the person who initially sent me an offer. Not even so much as a “why.” I kind of like that. It means she knows it’s bullshit and she’s not going to try to defend it.