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 (2000-Pres) Current Day Military talk (No Partisan Politics)
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Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4358
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
2/25/2022 8:30:48 PM
I’ve noticed today on more than one site that either as OpEds or Opinions (no quite the same thing) there are already discussions about whether Mr Putin is a “war criminal”. Should those of us who purport to be even amateur military historians be concerned?

I’ve always had some difficulty with “war criminal” at any rate, for a variety of reasons. Nonetheless, the term is being raised over the Ukranian invasion (incursion, peace keeping mission), not 48 hours into the attack.

At present, I’m prepared to use that other term, “war monger”. I don’t think what Mr Putin has done makes him a war criminal. He’s arrogant, self-serving, tough and thick-skinned. His invasion (incursion, peace keeping mission) is by every definition I can think of an act of war. Despite his claims of smart weapons attacking military targets only, civilians are being wounded and killed, though IMHO those numbers are surprisingly low. The problem is that civilian casualties are inevitable, whether as collateral damage or as a deliberate effort. And that doesn’t make Mr Putin a war criminal, but merely a person for whom his own geopolitical goals far outrate the deaths of innocent civilians (or, for that matter, not so innocent civilians acting as guerrilla forces).

This isn’t an attempt to create friction on MHO. But it remains true that “the first casualty of war is truth”. There have been amazing propaganda presentations already. Pre-invasion, shots of young blond girls learning to shoot rifles worked well, IMHO. Post-invasion, I don’t know what can top the purported comment by the men of Snake Island: “Fuck you!” I don’t know where the idea of Mr Putin as war criminal came from, but IMHO it is a very misdirected implication at this point.

I was wondering what other MHOers’ thoughts might be.

Cheers. (I’m dropping the “stay safe”, but continue to wear a mask for personal comfort.)
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 161
Joined: 2020
Ukraine: a different perspective
2/26/2022 2:39:12 AM

My thoughts;

United Nations Charter of 1945, in article 2(4), prohibited “the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any State, or in any other manner inconsistent with the Purposes of the United Nations.” The charter says that from now on, no nation can use armed force without the permission of the U.N. Security Council. Russian and Ukraine are UN members.
Article 51 of the Charter states the following: “Nothing in the present Charter shall impair the inherent right of individual or collective self-defense if an armed attack occurs against a Member of the United Nations.
Saddam Hussein found guilty of crimes against humanity and was subsequently sentenced to death; he was executed on 30 December 2006.
Respectfully, not sure how cute it is right now to debate Putin war crimes while people fighting for their lives.

Mike_C.
mikecmaps
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4358
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
2/26/2022 7:21:18 PM
Mike C,

I can see nothing “cute” in my question, and I hope you are the only one who feels I did so. I was asking a question I think both timely and appropriate. But if I have offended you, it was not my intention.

IMHO, your UN citations do not address the questions of war criminality, but only prohibitions concerning aggressive warfare on the one hand and justification for self-defence if attacked. Neither clause cited stipulates penalties for violations of self-determined statehood or support for self-defence. And certainly, there is no definition provided for any leader or country attacking another.

Saddam Hussein was indeed charged with crimes against humanity and executed. But he was not tried by the UN. He was tried by the Iraqi transitional authority (Coalition Provisional Authority or CPA) authorized to act as an interim government. IMHO, that is a very different thing, and may indeed make my question even more justified.

Cheers,
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
jahenders
Colorado Springs CO USA
Posts: 649
Joined: 2017
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/8/2022 2:47:49 PM
Brian,

It's definitely debatable (at this stage) whether there is enough evidence to prove Putin a "war criminal."
The determination of that will come when there's a lot more detail on exactly what weapons and tactics the Russians used, and against what targets.

However, he has clearly violated UN articles, invaded a neighboring country with no provocation, and violated the Budapest Memorandum on Security Assurances, which Russia signed.

In doing all this he's shown that the 'free world' has no viable plan to stop a determined aggressor against a non-aligned country.

Jim
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4358
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/26/2022 9:51:57 PM
Jim, Mike, we’re a month from my initial post, and this is still eating at me. Mike, is it still too soon to talk about this? Jim, are Mr Putin’s violations of various conventions and protocols any worse than other nations have committed.

I get that most folks don’t like what Mr Putin is committing Russian forces to. I get that many folks, if not most folks, simply don’t like Mr Putin. And be assured I’m not a fan either. I consider myself a thinking military historian with a moral bent; I certainly see war as at best immoral behaviour for moral purposes.

Ukraine is, to this point, waging a brilliant propaganda war, and is receiving assistance from the US and a number of (not all of) its allies. But I choke on headlines which suggests, e.g., US determines Putin committing war crimes, or Biden declares “Putin Must Go!”.

I’ve offered some posts recently on the “This Day in History” forum concerning bombing attacks on Germany during WW2. Civilian death rates and civilian dehousings were far vaster and indiscriminate than anything happening in Ukraine. It can be argued, of course, that Mr Putin – like the supporters of strategic carpet bombing in WW2 – is attempting to demoralize Ukrainians to the extent he believed they were before he began his invasion. But when a single “good” night raid by RAF Bomber Command (just as an example) can kill 5000, injure 15,000 more, and dehouse 50,000 more, or when the USAAF under Gen. Curtis Lemay firebombed Japanese cities, destroying up to 90% of the housing, and when none of these actions were challenged as war crimes, aren’t Western commentaries just a bit shameful in their comments and their somewhat jaded self-righteousness?

I think about My Lai in January 1968, when some 500 unarmed civilians were rounded up and butchered by US forces. Lt. William Calley was put on trial, of course, but IIRC no senior officers were brought to trial for war crimes, which I think this was. So why are folks so ready now to claim war crimes, or declare Mr Putin a baby-woman killer? He is, of course, but so were RAF Bomber Command and USAAF and Lt Calley’s unit. That, damnit, is war.

I’m not on Russia’s side here. I’ve been doing what I can to assist Ukraine. But it seems to me some folks are forgetting that this is a declared war by at least one belligerent. Some folks seem to have forgotten how horrible war is. What’s happening in Ukraine is nasty as hell, but that’s what war is.

Do we now hve to wait to the end of this ugliness before we can compare this conflict with others? I think that’s less than valid.

Cheers,
Brian G

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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5653
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/27/2022 3:58:32 AM
Brian,

You’re more courageous than most of us when it comes to drawing these unpopular comparisons, which demand that we countenance some unpalatable equivalence.

When a TV tower in Kyiv was hit by a Russian missile, killing several, we were quick to condemn : who remembers the destruction of a Serbian radio station in Belgrade in a NATO bombing that killed sixteen in the 1990s ?

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 177
Joined: 2010
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/27/2022 11:19:57 AM
The criticism of Russia's invasion of its peaceful neighbor and its deliberate targeting of civilians is what everyone should be doing. War is a terrible act and as Brian points out Britain and the U.S., as well as Canada, have committed some terrible acts in war time. We should not forget the past. If we acknowledge how terrible war is and we want a better world, then we should be criticizing Russia's so-called "special military operation."

Gary
john hayward
Keene NH USA
Posts: 921
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/27/2022 11:57:53 AM
Brian
"War is hell" is a familiar statement and you can point to many examples through out history. Only after WWII and the terrible atrocities that occurred did the world step up to punish those who committed them. We want to believe in 'the better angels of our nature" and that we have become more civilized. I hate to use a quote from a novel but in "Killer Angels" in the a conversation between Chamberlain and Kilrain, Chamberlain talks about our "better angel." Kilrain replies. "If man is an angel, he must be a killer angel" It may be true that we have not advanced as far as we think we have but that makes it more important that we should call out those who committed those terrible acts. Plus we must hold those responsible accountable. No country is clean but that doesn't excuse not calling out those who commit these acts or does it mean other countries can use the playground argument..."Well you did it."
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"When fascism comes to America it will be wrapped in the flag and carrying a cross."
morris crumley
Dunwoody GA USA
Posts: 3024
Joined: 2007
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/27/2022 12:11:53 PM
Brian, your argument, or position, misses, in my opinion, one foundational fact.....when the allies bombed Japanese and German civilians they were attacking a civilian populace that had supported the invasion, enslavement, and outright murder and extermination of millions of innocent civilians in countries all over the world.

What has Ukraine done to Russia? This was unprovoked, in any real way.

Respects, Morris
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"You are a $70, red-wool, pure quill military genius, or the biggest damn fool in northern Mexico."
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 161
Joined: 2020
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/27/2022 12:26:43 PM


The history of “war crimes” goes to 1864 and first Geneva Convention added to by 1894, 1907 Hague treaties, ratified by fifty State Parties. So nothing new, long historic practice.

I reject comparison with WW2.

Hitler, Hirohito wantonly attacked peaceful neighbors. Japan first bombed Chinese civilians, and first used infected fleas
as biologic agent against Chinese civilians. Germany first used chemical weapons in WW1 and in 1914 bombed Brussels
with Zeppelin bombing. Hitler bombed London 1940. WW2 a war of survival for democracies UK, France, US. Yes, massive
bombing and firebombing German & Japan cities horrible brutal acts, defensive acts since only way to bring dictators to knees
and end the slaughter. Yes for survival allies resorted to savagery as defense measure for survival. But followed by creating
UN and NATO as defensive measure to deter, hopefully, repeat. Its been sound and effective policy for 75 years.

I saw the limp body of the brown haired little six year old Ukrainian girl dead.
Her brown eyes rolled back in her head, dead.
Residential neighborhoods blasted, we see it!
Ukrainians deported – a war crime prima facia. Hostages taken, a war crime prima facia.

Go ahead. Have at it, rationalize that, debate that, on the one hand, on the other hand that, make Putin’s argument, justify that.

Mike Collie
mikecmaps
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4358
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/27/2022 9:37:10 PM
Morris, I note your point. But I’m not as convinced as you that we’re talking cause and effect. Strategic bombing was a hotly debated topic long before 1939, and long before 1932 (Manchukuo) or 1933 (Hitler’s rise to the Chancellor’s role). It’s aim as clear from Douhet’s Command of the Air (1922) onwards. Bomb the civilian population so viciously and continuously that they will rise up and demand their leaders end the war. The European nation that adopted this concept most fully was Great Britain

The role of the civilian populations of either German or Japan in determining the inception of or conduct of war by their leaders is debatable, IMHO. Here, UK and US attitudes might have varied. The British, remember, spent the first year of the war studiously avoiding bombing of civilian housing or any non-military targets. They spent a large part of the first two years of the war dropping leaflets telling Germans how nasty their leaders were to force them into war. But with the end of a German invasion threat, or certainly by the end of the Blitz in May 1942, RAF Bomber Command had already committed to its first three 1,000 bomber raids, and was intent on building a bomber force which would force Nazi Germany to collapse. The USAAC, despite their argument about precision bombing, adapted RAF area bombing to US daylight flights and formations to develop carpet bombing. Both depended on target identification and marking; both were aimed at civilians rather than military targets.

As to your question, “What has Ukraine done to Russia?”, I agree with your inferred response. Nothing, except exist. At least from my point of view, this is a war of aggression by a bully state. Mr Putin has argued that he is saving Ukraine from Nazis and fascists: God knows, he may actually believe such rubbish. Increasingly, it appears his military bought into this argument: they expected to greeted as liberators, and that their exercise would be rapid and relatively action-free. Increasingly, it has been demonstrated that this was a wrong assessment.

My point, Morris, is that Russian forces seem to be intent on destroying civilian infrastructure to such an extent that Ukrainian civilians will demand that their government accede to Russian demands. I hear the ghost of Douhet there. And I think about what Douhet provided to RAF BC and USAAF forces in both ETO and PTO.

Thanks, Morris, for your thoughts. We may not agree, but you’ve given me a rebuttal to contemplate.

Cheers
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4358
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
3/30/2022 11:59:36 PM
Mike C, I regret you feel so personally irritated by questions about the current war. I’m not trying to get folks worked up; I’m not (as you seem to imply) arguing for Putin. I’m trying to assess the war.

War crimes are neither fixed nor absolute, IIUC. Nor are they universal in application or acceptance. As well, behaviours concerning the conduct of war are not equivalent to behaviours which are considered to be war crimes or crimes against humanity.

My comparison with WW2 behaviour was meant as a focus on military activity, including activity that is now being denounced as it occurs in Ukraine. I agree with you about Hitler’s aggression, but question the use of the term “wantonly”. His invasions and manipulations were predetermined and in hindsight clearly directed to his goals for germanic culture. The German use of Zeppelins in WW1 is an interesting insert dealing with WW2, but IMHO is not germane to your argument; this probably applies to the use of chemical weapons in WW1 as well.

I have more trouble with your focus on Hirohito, because Tojo was probably the motivating power for the bastardized bushido inculcated in the Japanese military in the years after WW1. IIUC, Japan used chemical weapons in Manchukuo; I don’t know whether this was prior to or after Japan’s withdrawal from many western-centred agreements on military conduct. I’m surprised, however, that you didn’t mention Italy’s use of chemical weapons in Ethiopia, or the League of Nations’ lack of response.

Hitler’s Luftwaffe did indeed bomb London in 1940. It was, by common historical assessment, either an error of navigation or a desperate drop of bombs by an a/c under attack. And of course, RAF Bomber Command attempted to bomb Berlin the following day. Read what you will into that. To be honest, you could make a better argument discussing Warsaw in September 1939 or Rotterdam in May 1940.

Personally, I find the concept of strategic bombing as a defensive measure to be a load of hooey. From day one, strategic bombing was offensive. Every assault by RAF Bomber Command was designed to be as devastating as the destruction of Hamburg; every raid after the Millenium raids of June 1942 had the capability of being that devastating.

I also note that you had no comment about My Lai. I agree there is little to talk about with that massacre, but it should never be forgotten.

I’m sorry you saw a dead child. Nobody should be faced with that … or with a dead mother, father, fighter, medic or whatever. Dead bodies are the obscenities behind the rhetoric of war.

Cheers
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
mikecmaps
CAMARILLO CA USA
Posts: 161
Joined: 2020
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 12:47:39 PM

Group,

an unverified report from SKYNEWS, FYI.

03 Mar 2022 (7 Hr ago)

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss appears to be one of the first Western officials to react to the images and stories coming out of Bucha today.

Images and videos from the newly liberated city show the bodies of what appear to be civilians strewn across the streets, some of which have their hands tied behind their backs.

In a statement, Ms Truss said the government is "seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha".

She said the "indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians... must be investigated as war crimes".


EDIT: On Saturday, Reuters saw bodies in a mass grave and still lying on the streets, while on Sunday the mayor of Bacha, Anatoliy Fedoruk, showed reporters two corpses with white cloth tied around their arms, one of which appeared to have been shot in the mouth.

yours, Mike_C.
mikecmaps
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5653
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 3:08:31 PM
Quote:

Group,

an unverified report from SKYNEWS, FYI.

03 Mar 2022 (7 Hr ago)

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss appears to be one of the first Western officials to react to the images and stories coming out of Bucha today.

Images and videos from the newly liberated city show the bodies of what appear to be civilians strewn across the streets, some of which have their hands tied behind their backs.

In a statement, Ms Truss said the government is "seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha".

She said the "indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians... must be investigated as war crimes".


EDIT: On Saturday, Reuters saw bodies in a mass grave and still lying on the streets, while on Sunday the mayor of Bacha, Anatoliy Fedoruk, showed reporters two corpses with white cloth tied around their arms, one of which appeared to have been shot in the mouth.

yours, Mike_C.
mikecmaps


Katyn , March 1940 : Bucha, March 2022. Unspeakable.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2252
Joined: 2020
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 4:06:07 PM
I once had some sympathy for a Russian trapped in a tank horrible way to die, after Bucha not so much. In police forces in the US and in most modern western armies I would think there are orders which dont need to be followed because they are illegal. It looks like Russia does not have such stipulations.

[Read More]

vpatrick

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nuts
scoucer
Berlin  Germany
Posts: 3028
Joined: 2010
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 4:25:24 PM
Quote:

British Foreign Secretary Liz Truss appears to be one of the first Western officials to react to the images and stories coming out of Bucha today.

Images and videos from the newly liberated city show the bodies of what appear to be civilians strewn across the streets, some of which have their hands tied behind their backs.

In a statement, Ms Truss said the government is "seeing increasing evidence of appalling acts by the invading forces in towns such as Irpin and Bucha".

She said the "indiscriminate attacks against innocent civilians... must be investigated as war crimes".

yours, Mike_C.
mikecmaps


Comments from Liz "Airhead" Truss are just empty words without any consequences. She isn´t going to do anything.

Trevor
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`Hey don´t the wars come easy and don´t the peace come hard`- Buffy Sainte-Marie Some swim with the stream. Some swim against the stream. Me - I´m stuck somewhere in the woods and can´t even find the stupid stream.
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2252
Joined: 2020
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 4:54:54 PM
Yes Trevor,

Alot of posturing by politicians who will do nothing and to be honest Im disgusted by the politicians I usually support.


[Read More]

vpatrick
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nuts
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4358
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 7:24:37 PM
Quote:
Katyn , March 1940 : Bucha, March 2022. Unspeakable.

Phil, I agree. I might add a few to the list. Babi Yar (1941) comes to mind; so does My Lai (1968). Increasingly, it appears that there may be crimes in contravention of the conduct of war. Whether there are crimes against humanity is still not clear.
Quote:
Comments from Liz "Airhead" Truss are just empty words without any consequences. She isn´t going to do anything.

Trevor, while I agree with your assessment, and with VP with his inference that politicians’ main function is to mouth empty platitudes, I sense she was deliberately chosen for her lack of intensity.

I will admit I still feel sorry for any poor bastard of any nationality that dies in the flaming hull of a tank. There’s nothing to suggest the deaths in Bucha (and the emerging stories elsewhere) were carried out by tankers, though they may have been carried out by soldiers of a tank regiment.

I hope members also read the emerging stories of Ukrainians offering poisoned food to Russians. In this utterly bi-polar war, where Russian troops were sent to save Ukraine from fascism and expected to be greeted like saviours, seeing your elite troops slaughtered in their vehicles or poisoned by those you have saved must be provoking.

Cheers
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2252
Joined: 2020
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 7:40:14 PM
Quote:
I hope members also read the emerging stories of Ukrainians offering poisoned food to Russians. In this utterly bi-polar war, where Russian troops were sent to save Ukraine from fascism and expected to be greeted like saviours, seeing your elite troops slaughtered in their vehicles or poisoned by those you have saved must be provoking.

Cheers
Brian G
😊

There would be no poisoned Russians if they remained behind their borders. Poison away war sucks, I feel bad for the children who have cancer and are missing their treatments, or the pregnant Ukrainian women whos hospital has been destroyed, or the old man that needs his insulin but his pharmacy does not exist anymore or cant find those drugs. Fuck the Russians in their tanks, leave those tanks like many have go home Russians, the Ukrainian people is my only concern. And the dogs.....

vpatrick

[Read More]
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nuts
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2252
Joined: 2020
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/3/2022 7:43:12 PM
Quote:
I hope members also read the emerging stories of Ukrainians offering poisoned food to Russians. In this utterly bi-polar war, where Russian troops were sent to save Ukraine from fascism and expected to be greeted like saviours, seeing your elite troops slaughtered in their vehicles or poisoned by those you have saved must be provoking.

Cheers
Brian G


There would be no poisoned Russians if they remained behind their borders. Poison away war sucks, I feel bad for the children who have cancer and are missing their treatments, or the pregnant Ukrainian women whos hospital has been destroyed, or the old man that needs his insulin but his pharmacy does not exist anymore or cant find those drugs. Poison the Russians in their tanks, leave those tanks like many have and go home Russians, the Ukrainian people is my only concern. And the dogs.....

vpatrick
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nuts
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5653
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/4/2022 3:03:37 AM
Yes, Vince : those dogs...the Ukrainians seem to have an enormous love of pets.

I wonder how many of them have been feasting on human flesh in the midst of all this carnage.

How long, I’m also wondering, before the Soldiers’ Mothers association in Russia starts making big difficulties for Putin ? Those women carry a lot of clout.

Seven Russian generals killed, FFS !

Seven ! That’s more generals killed than either of the two armies at Gettysburg lost : more than the Confederates lost at Franklin.

There’s a revealing feature on the BBC news website about an elite Russian unit that has published the names of 39 of its men who have been killed : the people from the town that provided the bulk of its recruits have insisted that about 100 have died.

Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Wazza
Sydney  Australia
Posts: 671
Joined: 2005
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/4/2022 3:12:00 AM
Phil, we saw the same program here in Oz.
Apparently all members of an Elite Airborne unit. And by all accounts, cut to pieces in heavy urban fighting.
One can only wonder at the Ukrainian casualties.
We have also seen reports from Ex British servicemen who have returned/deserted from Ukrainian service due to harsh conditions and poor equipment and leadership.
Something mainstream media has not picked up on.
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 5653
Joined: 2004
Ukraine: a different perspective
4/4/2022 3:52:03 AM
Another thought, and a discordant one, I fear ...... something of a “ be careful what you wish for “ moment.

Do we want the Russian Federation to become a “ failed state “ ?

Imagine Moscow becoming the new Mogadishu.


Regards, Phil
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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes

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