8/16/2022 – War update and commentary

From Jamie Peipon: Is it better to stay in a bombed-out city that is your home where you’ve lived your whole life? Or is it better to fill up a backpack, leave everything else behind, and move west hoping to start a new life in a city you may never have even visited before? The calculations are impossible. The picture above is of a bus stop in Russian-occupied Mariupol. For these men, women, and children, this is what “Russian liberation” looks like. They didn’t ask for it, but they sure received it. Obviously, it isn’t a welcome sight. Were Nazis living in these buildings? What was it about this bus stop that made it a target for “demilitarization?”

Ukrainians in occupied territories have found many ways to be useful and there has been one category of Ukrainians that has gone largely unnoticed and unpraised: Ukrainian partisans. These brave people have found themselves behind enemy lines, but are continuing the fight in unique ways. Some are printing signs saying things like “Watch your back: Ukrainians are around every corner” or “Save yourself. Leave our land before you’re removed from it” and hanging them throughout occupied cities. It is simple, but effective at hurting the morale of the occupiers. Others have become like rogue special forces units who have used improvised explosive devices to take out vehicles, particularly ones containing Russian officers. Still others have tracked troop movements and have located ammunition depots and command posts and then fed the coordinates back to the Ukrainian armed forces. The partisans are likely one of the key components for the successful use of the HIMARS in Ukraine. It seems the artillery units are getting actionable intelligence from people on the ground.

But it isn’t just Ukrainian partisans that are supplying actionable intelligence. Yesterday, a Russian war-correspondent released a report praising the work of Russia’s military in the city of Popasna in the Donetsk region. One screenshot from the video showed the address of the building where the notorious Russian mercenaries known as the Wagner Group had their headquarters. As of today, that building no longer exists. Ukrainians also watched the report, pulled up the coordinates (which, with an address, can be done in seconds through Google Maps) and then dialed in their artillery.

A few days ago, I wrote about the effort to stop issuing Russians tourist visas for the European Union. While some of the countries bordering Russia have already stopped issuing visas, they still are required to honor visas issued by other EU member states. Denmark, Finland, Lithuania, Latvia, and Poland all support a restriction on visas at the EU level. There are countries (we see you, Germany) that are strongly opposed to such measures. Apparently, it is on the agenda for a meeting of EU leaders that is schedule for August 31st. There is some sympathy for the “good Russians” who are apparently against the war. However, Russian tourists have quite a reputation. Even before the war, many vacation spots that were popular among Russians would have signs at their facilities that were not needed for everyone, but were only in Russian saying things like, “Please do not steal flatware from the dining room,” and “packing food from the buffet in to-go boxes is strictly prohibited.” Since the beginning of the full-scale invasion, things have only gotten worse. Many EU countries are finding that Ukrainians that are displaced throughout Europe are often harassed by Russian tourists. There is always a cost of doing business and Europeans are beginning to find themselves unwilling to pay the price.

‘Vindicate me, O LORD, my God,
according to your righteousness,
and let them not rejoice over me!
Let them not say in their hearts,
“Aha, our heart’s desire!”
Let them not say, “We have swallowed him up.”’

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