12/24/2022 – War update and commentary

From Jamie Peipon (Day 302): The woman in this picture is a math teacher in Ukraine. Apparently, her school transitioned to virtual learning, but she does not have electricity at her home because of russia’s constant bombing of Ukrainian infrastructure. So here she is, outside of a grocery store that is apparently being powered by a generator, so that she can get access to power and Wifi. She’s running her lesson in her coat and in freezing temperatures. This looks remarkable to most of us around the world (and it is!), but even more remarkable in the video is how several people just walk by as if it is the most normal thing in the world for someone to be teaching from the top of a metal post, outside, in freezing temperatures. This just demonstrates yet again how each Ukrainian is continuing to do whatever it is that they can do in order to make sure life continues.

There has been increased chatter recently about what might be happening in Belarus. There have been videos and pictures of russian soldiers and equipment being sent there and pushed toward the border with Ukraine. Officials from russia also recently paid a visit to Belarus sparking additional interest. Kyrylo Budanov, Ukraine’s Chief of the Main Intelligence Directorate of the Ministry of Defense, seems to sense less danger than others. Ukraine is ready to defend itself (again) if attacked from the North, but Budanov says that there is not any intelligence that points to a renewed invasion through Belarus. In an interview with the New York Times, he says that the Soviet Union would send trains of soldiers to and from different locations in order to make it look like an attack or retreat is happening. He indicated that they have seen a train full of russian troops arrive to a location near the Ukrainian border. They all stand around for half a day before getting back on the carousel and heading back to wherever they came from.

In Mariupol, the horrors of russian occupation continue. The Associated Press reports that russia has dug over 10,000 graves in the city since the occupation began in March. The graves were dug as trenches with heavy machinery, occupying more than 50,000 square meters of area, and according to satellite imagery they were quickly backfilled. In addition, images have come out of russian trucks loaded with Ukrainian language textbooks and Ukrainian literature. There have been orders from russia to destroy all of that information. For the record, this is exactly what russia has consistently accused Ukraine of doing: not allowing a people group to speak the language of their choice. But Ukraine was never actually doing such a thing… but here is russia, doing exactly what they’ve accused their enemies of doing.

Back in russia, there are renewed concerns about their economy. There is apparently a concern over a run on the banks as some reports say that banks are not allowing people to withdraw their money. Debit cards are being blocked and ATMs are being cut off as well. In addition, the ruble has found itself in a fresh slump and has sharply declined up against the dollar. It had been artificially propped up back in March, but that can only last for so long. An interesting thing about economic crashes is that they always seem absolutely impossible until the moment that they happen. Only then does everybody start looking back on all the signals with 20/20 hindsight. It doesn’t seem like russia’s entire economy will crash in the short term, but there do seem to be ever clearer cracks in the foundation.

“Comfort, comfort ye my people,
speak ye peace, thus saith our God;
comfort those who sit in darkness,
mourning ‘neath their sorrow’s load.
Speak ye to Jerusalem
of the peace that waits for them;
tell her that her sins I cover,
and her warfare now is over.”

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