The Other McCain

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UKRAINE: Kyiv Survives Another Day

Posted on | February 26, 2022 | Comments Off on UKRAINE: Kyiv Survives Another Day

The good news is that the Ukrainian capital did not fall to the Russian invaders Friday night, but it is becoming a battle in earnest:

Street fighting has broken out in Ukraine’s capital, Kyiv, as Russian forces advanced on the city and Ukrainian officials urged residents to take shelter.
As dawn broke in Kyiv on Saturday, it was not immediately clear how far the soldiers had advanced. Ukrainian officials reported success in fending off assaults, but fighting persisted near the capital. Skirmishes reported on the edge of the city of nearly three million people suggested that small Russian units were probing Ukrainian defences to clear a path for the main forces. . . .
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy refused an American offer for him to evacuate, insisting that he would stay in Kyiv. “The fight is here,” he said on Saturday. . . .
“We aren’t going to lay down weapons. We will protect the country,” he said. “Our weapon is our truth, and our truth is that it’s our land, our country, our children. And we will defend all of that.” . . .
“It was an extraordinarily awful night,” said Al Jazeera’s Andrew Simmons, reporting from the capital. “Missiles just raining down on Kyiv, ballistic missiles shuddering the city and relentless bombardments by the air force of the Russian Federation.”
He said that there was fighting across the country, but in the capital “the force of the conflict has reached a seismic level”.
“The trauma, the pain is just so immeasurable, very hard to narrate what has been happening,” Simmons added.

Civilized nations do not do this to their neighbors, obviously. There has been talk of a negotiated ceasefire, but Putin appears to be offering unacceptable conditions, so that the offer to negotiate is just a pretext to shift blame to the Ukrainians. Putin is talking like a madman:

Looking dead-eyed into the camera on Friday, Vladimir Putin gave one of the most bizarre speeches of his 22 years as Russia’s leader, a directive that managed to sound alarming even in a week when he has ordered tanks into Ukraine and missile strikes on Kyiv.
“Once again I speak to the Ukrainian soldiers,” he said, addressing his enemy. “Do not allow neo-Nazis and Banderites to use your children, your wives and the elderly as a human shield. Take power into your own hands. It seems that it will be easier for us to come to an agreement than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”

The term “Banderites” is a historical reference to 20th-century extremists, so its use by Putin is rather like Democrats smearing Republicans as “Klansmen” or whatever. And to describe the democratically-elected government of Zelensky (who is Jewish) as a “gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis” is just bizarre.

Trying to find decent reporting about the actual combat in Ukraine is a difficult task. We get a lot of human-interest stuff about civilians hiding in shelters, and almost nothing about the location of military units. We are told that “explosions were heard” (duh) or that the sound of small-arms fire could be heard (duh again), but journalists on the ground in Ukraine don’t seem to be going out to where the fighting is actually happening and attempting to find out who is fighting and where.

Because of the low quality (and scare quantity) of combat reporting, we can only hazard a guess at the tactical situation. Is it fair to say the Russian offensive now seems to be “bogged down”? I’m not sure. On the one hand, the Ukrainians have demolished bridges to prevent (or at least impede) the advance of Russian armored and mechanized forces, but wasn’t this predictable? So perhaps the Russians have merely paused, and are consolidating their gains as they establish a chokehold around Kyiv, preparatory to a mass assault in the coming days.

One wishes for old-time war correspondents like Joe Galloway, who helicoptered into combat zones in the heat of battle. We don’t have that kind of eyewitness reporting of what’s happening in Ukraine, and it’s frustrating to those of us who don’t accept the blathering of TV talking heads as a substitute for real journalism.




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