8/20/2022 – War update and commentary

From Jamie Peipon: I’ve often been asked what I think Russia’s endgame is. They’re clearly bogged down. They have clearly lost a lot of soldiers. They have clearly not been able to reach their original objectives. They have also clearly failed to reach secondary and tertiary objectives with any semblance of success. So why not just say “mission: accomplished” through their state media and head home? Here’s a Russian story I came across that may help explain this behavior:

A poor villager stumbles upon a being that announces it will grant him one wish. He starts thinking about a palace… land… riches. Before he can make his wish, the being says that the only caveat is that the villager’s neighbor will receive double of whatever the villager asks for: if he asks for and receives one palace, his neighbor will receive two; 1000 bars of gold, his neighbor will receive 2000, etc. The villager thinks for a moment and then makes his wish: “I wish for you to poke one of my eyes out.”

According to the source from which I pulled that story, it is a “famous Russian proverb.” I had never heard it before and don’t know the proverb’s origin… but even if it isn’t from Russia, it definitely depicts their mindset. What Russia is doing in Ukraine is exactly what is described in this story. It is impossible for them to fathom that people in Ukraine may be better off than they and so it is worth it to harm themselves in every possible way, just to make life worse for their neighbor and for much of the world.

Are sanctions working? Not as fast as we would like them to, but absolutely yes. They are so isolated that the Taliban is now one of Russia’s trading partners. Today, the Taliban offered to buy oil from Russia for raisins, other dried fruit, and medicinal herbs. That is quite an embarrassing poke in the eye. But it is worth it to Russia if it means Ukraine and other countries’ economies are also harmed.

How’s the war going? Ukraine is now estimating 44,700 Russian soldiers have died in Ukraine. Russia is just fine with that if it means that Ukrainians are also suffering. It is a twisted way of interacting with the world… but that’s just the way they operate.

In other news, a Ukrainian celebrity who has been raising ridiculous sums of money for Ukraine since the beginning of this invasion has just signed a contract to purchase access to a satellite constellation for Ukraine’s armed forces for approximately $18 million. The satellite company used the picture above as the cover image for their press release. What you’re seeing, as you may have already guessed, is the infamous Crimean bridge. The defense ministry of Ukraine tweeted this same image with the text: “We. See. You. Ukrainian people fundraised $20 mln to watch russian occupiers smoking negligently over the illegal Kerch Bridge. As you know, smoking in public places in Ukraine is prohibited.”

The US announced a new package of support for Ukraine that will include HIMARS ammunition, howitzers, and other such useful items. Meanwhile, there were no new bilateral offers for military aid to Ukraine from the five largest countries in Europe in the whole month of July. They participated in other broader agreements, but they didn’t offer military aid on their own. I’m grateful for any support offered, but I’m not sure if this “incremental support” strategy is the best for helping Ukraine to win the war.

‘Let those who delight in my righteousness
shout for joy and be glad
and say evermore,
“Great is the LORD,
who delights in the welfare of his servant!”
Then my tongue shall tell of your righteousness
and of your praise all the day long.’

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