Category Archives: War & Peace

Deja Vu All Over Again! Draft Exiles Streaming Out of Russia

[NOTE: the article below opens the doors of memory. The draft resistance exodus from Russia is the third such episode I’ve witnessed.

The first two I played a bit part in: during the 1960s Vietnam War, many U. S. Quakers “aided and abetted” (technically a federal crime) many young men who left the country to avoid being swept up in the military draft: I encouraged a few myself.
Others, such as Friend Ken Maher, helped many more, and Ken recounts his adventures on the new underground railroad of those years in this post, Then 35 years later, as the U. S. Invasion of Iraq wreaked its  vast destruction, I worked with dissident soldiers who left the country to refuse participation in an illegal, immoral war. The story, “Money for College,” here, grew out of that work.
This time, I’m but a spectator and cheerleader, from a seemingly safe distance. But while Putin’s cronies jeer at them, and his minions arrest as many as they can catch, I know their refusal is important. Many may languish in prison, others have to start over in exile, and there will be no parades or medals for either. But widespread draft resistance has an impact: it helps blunt the drive for war, saps the public compliance needed even in a Putin-style tyranny. To paraphrase, “They also serve, who refuse to serve at all.”]

The Guardian —  22 September 2022

‘I will cross the border tonight’: Russians flee after news of draft

Border guards cite ‘exceptional’ number of people leaving the country after ‘partial mobilisation’ announcement

Hours after Vladimir Putin shocked Russia by announcing the first mobilisation since the second world war, Oleg received his draft papers in the mailbox, ordering him to make his way to the local recruitment centre in Kazan, the capital of the ​​Tatarstan republic.

As a 29-year-old sergeant in the Russian reserves, Oleg said he always knew that he would be the first in line if a mobilisation was declared, but held out hope that he would not be forced to fight in the war in Ukraine.

“My heart sank when I got the call-up,” he said. “But I knew I had no time to despair.”


He quickly packed all his belongings and booked a one-way ticket to Orenburg, a southern Russian city close to the border with Kazakhstan.

“I will be driving across the border tonight,” he said in a telephone interview on Thursday from the airport in Orenburg. “I have no idea when I’ll step foot in Russia again,” he added, referring to the jail sentence Russian men face for avoiding the draft.

Backup at the Russian border with Finland.

Oleg said he will leave behind his wife, who is due to give birth next week. “I will miss the most important day of my life. But I am simply not letting Putin turn me into a killer in a war that I want no part in.”

The Kremlin’s decision to announce a partial mobilisation has led to a rush among men of military age to leave the country, likely sparking a new, possibly unprecedented brain drain in the coming days and weeks.

The Guardian spoke to over a dozen men and women who had left Russia since Putin announced the so-called partial mobilisation, or who are planning to do so in the next few days.

Options to flee are limited, they say. Earlier this week, four of the five EU countries bordering Russia announced they would no longer allow Russians to enter on tourist visas.

Direct flights from Moscow to Istanbul, Yerevan, Tashkent and Baku, the capitals of countries allowing Russians visa-free entry, were sold out for the next week, while the cheapest one-way flight from Moscow to Dubai cost about 370,000 rubles (£5,000) – a fee too steep for most.

And so many, like Oleg, were forced to get creative and drive to some of the few land borders still open to Russians.

Border guards in Finland, the last EU country that still allows entry to Russians with tourist visas, said that they have noticed an “exceptional number” of Russian nationals seeking to cross the border overnight, while eyewitnesses also said the Russian-Georgian and Russian-Mongolian borders were “collapsing” with overwhelming traffic.

“We are seeing an even bigger exodus than when the war started,” said Ira Lobanovskaya, who started the “Guide to the free World”NGO, which helps Russians against the war leave the country.

She said her website had received over one and half million visits since Putin’s speech on Wednesday. According to Lobanovkaya’s estimates, over 70,000 Russians that used the group’s services have already left or made concrete plans to leave.

“These are people who are buying one-way tickets. They won’t be coming back as long as mobilisation is ongoing,” she said.

Many of those who are still in Russia will feel that time is running out. At least three regions have already announced they will close their borders to men eligible for the draft.

Border agents at Russian airports have also reportedly started interrogating departing male passengers about their military service status and checking return tickets.

After thousands of Russians rallied against the war and mobilisation on Wednesday, some took to social media to criticise protesters for not speaking out earlier, when their country’s troops were committing human rights abuses in Bucha, Irpin and countless of other towns across Ukraine.

Policemen detaining protesters in central St. Petersburg
Policemen move in to detain participants of an unauthorised protest against partial mobilisation in central St Petersburg, Russia, on Wednesday. Photograph: Anatoly Maltsev/EPA

“I understand people’s frustration,” said Igor, a 26-year-old IT professional from St Petersburg, who is planning to fly to Vladikavkaz and drive to Georgia, another popular fleeing route used by Russians, next week. “I attended the anti-war protest when Putin launched his invasion, but the authorities just jail everyone.”

Some of the protesters detained in Moscow have subsequently been given draft notices while locked up, according to the monitoring group OVD, further underlying the dangers average Russians face when taking to the streets.

“I think the only way I can personally help Ukraine right now is by not fighting there,” Igor said.

There have also been calls for the EU to support Russians who are looking for a way out of the draft.

The EU Commission spokesperson on home affairs, Anitta Hipper, said that the bloc would meet to discuss the issuance of humanitarian visas to Russians fleeing mobilisation. The three Baltic states said on Thursday, however, that they are not prepared to automatically offer asylum to Russians fleeing the draft.

Even those without any military experience – men who Putin vowed not to call up – are packing their bags.

Russian police detaining a protester
Russian police detaining a protester against the partial mobilisation. Photograph: Maxim Shipenkov/EPA

They point to the ambiguity of Putin’s mobilisation law and point to previous broken promises that he would not call for one.

“Putin lied that there will be no mobilisation,” said 23-year-old Anton, a student in Moscow, referring to the president’s International Women’s Day address on 8 March, when he insisted that no reservists would be called up to fight in Ukraine. “Why would he not lie again about this partial mobilisation?”

Fears have grown after independent website Novaya Gazeta Europe reported, based on its government sources, that the mobilistation decrees allow the Ministry of Defence to call up 1,000,000 people, instead of the 300,000 announced by the country’s defence minister, Sergei Shoigu, on Wednesday.

For now, Lobanovskaya said, the majority of Russians leaving are men.

The Guardian also spoke to a number of women, mostly medics, who similarly decided to leave the country after reports started to trickle out that Russia was calling up health professionals to the front.

“I know medics are supposed to treat people, that is our duty,” said Tatayana, a doctor from Irkutsk, who bought a plane ticket to Baku for next week. “But I believe the sooner this horrible war stops, the fewer people will die.”

The mobilisation also appears to have spooked some of the very people on whom the regime relies to sustain its war efforts.

“For me, mobilisation is the red line,” said Ilya, 29, a mid-level official working for the Moscow government. “Tomorrow I will be in Kazakhstan.”

One man, the son of a west-sanctioned oligarch due to come back to Russia after his studies abroad to work for his family business, said he no longer planned to do so.

“Well, one thing is clear,” he said, in a brief interview by text message. “I won’t be coming back to Russia anytime soon.”


Confederate Monument Removal: Win Some, Lose Some

Lawsuit over Confederate monument dismissed

Isaac Groves — Sept. 15, 2022

Burlington Times-News USA TODAY NETWORK

The Confederate monument in front of the Alamance County Historic Courthouse will stay where it is after a superior court judge, in that same courthouse, dismissed a lawsuit from the NAACP demanding its removal – at least for now.

“It is abundantly clear whatever decision I make will likely be appealed,” said Judge Don Bridges.

The state and local NAACP, several other groups including business owners, individuals, and clergy members call the monument a danger to public safety and protecting it a waste of taxpayer money. They filed a lawsuit in Alamance County Superior Court in late March of 2021 against the Alamance County Board of Commissioners, alleging that keeping the monument in a prominent place violates the state constitution by denying Black residents equal protection under the law, promoting racism and wasting public funds.

The suit asked the court for an injunction to remove the statue and a judgment declaring state law does not prohibit the county from removing the monument and prohibiting the county from moving it to another location on county property.

The Monument

The county’s monument to local Confederate war dead is a statue of a soldier atop a pillar about 30 feet above the street. It has been on Court Square since 1914 in front of what is now the only public entrance to the Alamance County Historic Courthouse. It’s been the focus of demonstrations for and against it for years, but the summer and fall of 2020, after the killing of George Floyd in 2020, became nothing short of intense.

The Alamance County Sheriff’s Office estimated it spent at least $750,000 in officers’ time on 39 demonstrations in 2020 – a figure the suit used to support its argument against spending public funds to protect the monument.

2015 Law

The Alamance County Commissioners have been advised they do not have the authority to move the monument under a 2015 state law limiting when local governments can move “objects of remembrance.”

The NAACP suit claimed the county interprets the public-safety clause in that law too narrowly, treating it only as a way to move monuments before they fall and hurt someone.

But, according to the suit, the state Attorney General’s office interprets it broadly and the Governor’s Office determined that UNC-Chapel Hill was acting within the law when it removed Silent Sam after protesters tore it down and removed monuments from the capitol grounds after protesters vandalized them.

The county spent about $30,000 on a fence around the monument to prevent any such vandalism in 2021, which a hit-and-run driver damaged in June.

Plaintiffs also argued the monument created a risk of violence pointing to a number of incidents between protesters, counter protesters and law enforcement through 2020, many of which worked their way through local and federal courts.

The presence of a monument to the confederacy in front of the courthouse also sends a negative message to Black residents who must pass it on the way to seeking justice under the law, the NAACP argued.

Judge Bridges, however, said the monument protection act, as it is often called, was obviously intended to protect statues like this one, and the commissioners clearly relied on that statute when they chose not to take any action to remove it. The plaintiffs did not, Bridges said, choose to challenge the law itself or the General Assembly that made the law.

“If the statute is valid,” Bridges said, “then the county commissioners are entitled to follow it.”

Bridges said the issue wasn’t strictly political but came close enough that a court should be wary of digging too deeply into it.

“It is better addressed by the public at the ballot box than in the courtroom,” Bridges said.


Pentagon Budget “Needs” an Inflation Bonus: $42 Billion

[NOTE: Will the Pentagon get a “catch-up-with-inflation” bonus? It usually gets what it wants from Congress, and sometimes even more. With the coming of a new  not-so-Cold War, the U. S. war budget seems primed for significant growth. An old story is “new” again. Stay tuned.]

Reuters: Pentagon needs an extra $42 billion due to soaring inflation -industry

By Abhijith Ganaparavam & Mike Stone — Sept. 12, 2022

The U.S. Department of Defense will need an extra $42 billion in the next fiscal year to make up for a shortfall in how much it can buy as rising prices eat in to its procurement budget, a defense industry group said in a report coming out this week.

Where did all our tax money go?

“Significant inflation is a major challenge” for the Pentagon and its thousands of contractors, compounding the challenge from COVID-19 and dealing with the supply-chain crisis, said the National Defense Industrial Association report, which was reviewed by Reuters ahead of publication.

From fiscal years 2021 to 2023, the total loss of buying power to the Pentagon from inflation will exceed $110 billion, the report said.

Continue reading Pentagon Budget “Needs” an Inflation Bonus: $42 Billion

Gwynne Dyer on Russia’s Reluctant Decolonization

Gorbachev, Putin, and a collapsing empire

Gwynne Dyer — Sept. 7, 2022

This is not another pipe-sucking reassessment of Mikhail Gorbachev’s failed attempt to democratize the Soviet Union 30 years ago.
He wasn’t actually trying to do that anyway; he was attempting to save the Soviet Union and Communism by civilizing and softening the harsh Bolshevik dictatorship that had prevailed since 1917.

Gorbachev was hated by most older Russians because the Soviet Union, the country they were born into, broke apart on his watch. His current successor, Vladimir Putin, is now waging a war to put it back together, but Gorbachev, Putin and most other Russians have all made the same category error. They thought the Soviet Union was a country.

It wasn’t. It was an empire, fundamentally no different from the half-dozen other European empires that carved most of the world up between them in the preceding few centuries — or indeed, from the hundreds of other empires that had preceded them in the 5,000 years of mass civilizations.

Almost all of these empires had a ruling ethnic or linguistic group at the centre, and a variety of subject peoples around the periphery. Their size was historically limited by very slow long-distance communications, but the advent of ocean-going ships allowed them to go global by the 17th century. And they were all ruled, in the final analysis, by force.

The British, the French and Dutch empires never confused their empires with their own countries because their colonies were separated from their homelands by thousands of kilometres of ocean. It was trickier with the Russian, Turkish and Austro-Hungarian empires, where all their possessions were connected by land, but the latter two were gone by 1918.

That left the Russian empire, which fell into the hands of Bolshevik revolutionaries and was renamed the Soviet Union. But its borders didn’t change except in the far west, where Finland, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania and Poland gained their independence.

That’s where the popular confusion in Russia comes from. Because the Communists claimed to be anti-imperialist and even abstained from using Russian nationalist tropes until Stalin’s time, it was easy for Russians to think the Soviet Union was all the same homeland.

But the subject peoples noticed. Continue reading Gwynne Dyer on Russia’s Reluctant Decolonization

Gorbachev: An Elegy in Images

Too busy . . .

Someone here fits that description . . .

Heading for Kyiv . . . then where?

Will all our most extravagant hopes end this way?

Ghosts: Gorby & Reagan . . . What if Mikhail had borrowed Ronnie’s astrologer .. .??

In post-Gorbachev Russia, this now passes for freedom of the press .. .

From the 1997 Pizza Hut commercial. There are worse ways of getting a slice of the pie, after preventing nuclear war (on his watch) . . .

You have a place here too, Vlad . . .

More War Statues Coming Down— Different Wars, Different Targets


BY VANESSA GERA — August 31, 2022

WARSAW, Poland (AP) — In the Latvian capital of Riga, an obelisk that soared high above a park to commemorate the Soviet Army’s capture of that nation in 1944 was toppled last week. It crashed into a pond to the cheers of those watching.

Days earlier in Estonia, a replica of a Soviet tank with the communist red star was removed by cranes and trucked away to a museum — one of up to 400 destined for removal. And in Poland, Lithuania and Czechia, monuments to the Red Army have been coming down for months, a belated purge of what many see as symbols of past oppression.

Russia’s war on Ukraine has given a renewed push to topple the last remaining Soviet monuments in nations that regained their sovereignty from Moscow more than three decades ago. These countries now belong to NATO and the European Union and are staunch supporters of Ukraine.

At the end of the communist era, when Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia regained their independence from the Soviet Union and Poland and its neighbors rejected Moscowbacked communism, those nations began renaming streets and purging the most hated symbols, including statues of Soviet founder Vladimir Lenin and other communist bosses. Many of these relics are now housed in museums.

In Warsaw, authorities in 1989 quickly toppled a monument to Felix Dzerzhinsky, a Polish aristocrat who organized the Soviet secret police after the 1917 Bolshevik revolution. Under his rule, the Cheka, the forerunner of the KGB, was responsible for a wave of terror.
A Soviet-oriented war monument in Latvia comes down.

Such changes followed the reforms of Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, who died in a Moscow hospital on Tuesday at the age of 91.

But memorials to Soviet soldiers or their role in defeating Nazi Germany remained in many places, met with indifference or respect for the ordinary soldiers who died fighting Adolf Hitlers brutal regime.

The war in Ukraine, however, has triggered memories of how some of those soldiers also raped local women and carried out other war crimes.

Krista Sarv, the research director for the Estonian History Museum, said after statues of Lenin and other leading communists were toppled in the 1990s, people could largely ignore the other memorials. But views changed suddenly after the Russian invasion of Ukraine on Feb. 24, and now the memorials “scream loudly about occupation and annexation.”

Karol Nawrocki, the head of Polands Institute of National Remembrance which is overseeing the removal of the monuments, says “before our eyes, history has become a living experience.

“Dressed in the uniforms of the Russian Federation, with Lenin and Stalin in their heads and hearts, Russian soldiers ‘liberate’ Ukraine by murdering women, children and killing soldiers,” Nawrocki said.

“Let it be clear: There is no place in the Polish public space for any commemoration of the totalitarian communist regime and its people,” he added.

A 2016 decommunization law had already called for a purge of communist symbols and names, but some municipalities did not have the money for that, so the institute has stepped in to help. Since February, the Polish institute has identified 60 monuments for removal — and has toppled more than 20.

In Lithuania, a number of remaining Soviet memorials have been removed since the spring to little protest. But in Latvia and Estonia, which have sizeable Russian minorities, the removals have stirred greater emotions, with local Russians — and the Russian government — seeing it as an offense against their war heroes.

Dmitry Prokopenko, a Russianspeaking Latvian who opposed removing the Riga obelisk, said his grandparents fought and a greatgrandfather died in the fight “for freedom against the Nazis. To him, the memorial honored their sacrifice.

“Latvia is a land where Latvians and Russians live together,” he said. “I think that one part of the state, one part of the country, should respect also the rights of the other part.”

The Russian Foreign Ministry on Tuesday released a lengthy statement denouncing the demolition of Soviet monuments in the Baltic countries as “barbaric” and threatening Latvia, Lithuania and Estonia with retaliatory measures.

In an apparent slap against Poland, Belarus last week reportedly leveled a memorialcontaining the graves of Polish wartime soldiers.

Polish officials declared that action barbaric, given that Poland has a policy of not disturbing the graves of Soviet soldiers. Rafal Leskiewicz, a historian with the Polish remembrance institute, explained “as Christians, we treat graves as holy ground. It doesnt matter who is in the graves.”

In some cases locals support keeping Red Army memorials because of its role in defeating Nazi Germany. Some fear the erasure of historical memory, or see an affront to their own ancestors who fought alongside the Soviets.

In Polands northern city of Gdansk, theres been a heated debate about a Soviet T34 tank on Victory Avenue, and the city has decided not to remove it. The tank commander was a Polish lieutenant, and Polish soldiers played a key role in freeing the former German city of Danzig from the Nazis.

In an open letter, two descendants of wartime Polish soldiers expressed their indignation at the removal of monuments.

They recalled that Polish soldiers died fighting with the Soviets to free Poland from the Nazis and that the Soviet victory resulted in Poland receiving a swath of defeated Germanys territory and cities including Gdansk and Wroclaw. They also noted it was the Red Army that liberated Auschwitz, Majdanek and many other Nazi death camps.

“Had it not been for the victory of Polish and Soviet soldiers in May 1945, Poland might not have existed at all,” said the letter by magazine editor Pawel Dybicz and historian August Grabski.

But many other Poles note that World War II broke out after Soviet Union and Nazi Germany agreed secretly in 1939 to carve up Poland and the Baltic states. Only after Germany betrayed and invaded the Soviet Union did the Red Army begin to fight the Germans.

Even before Russias war in Ukraine, the monuments have been a source of tensions.

In 2007, the relocation of a World War II monument of a Red Army soldier in Tallinn, Estonia, sparked days of rioting.

In 2013, an artist put up a statue depicting a Soviet soldier raping a pregnant womannext to the Gdansk tank. The unauthorized sculpture was quickly removed. After Russia invaded Ukraine, a different artist covered the tank with a large handsewn Ukrainian flag to protest what he called the “tyranny” of Russian President Vladimir Putin.

In March, as Poland was figuring out a timetable for taking down Soviet monuments, a resident of the northern city of Koszalin took matters into his own hands. He drove an excavator onto a cemetery and toppled the statue of a Soviet soldier being hugged by a girl.

Nawrocki says the official removal of Soviet monuments in Poland is progressing at a very fast pace, but it is a matter that should have been settled long ago.”


More Cartoons: “Forgive Us Our (School Loan) Debts Edition

Their CVs all list “Trump U Law School” . . . .

But at least the party still has some rock-solid beliefs . . .

But give this guy a break– he’s running for Q-Anon shaman in Arizona, and has a tough race . . .

File this next one under “Circular Firing Squad,” Continued . . .

Gotta repeat this message; like every half hour.








And to bring us back, um, down to earth . . .

Ukraine War: Two Estimates of the Next Six Months

The Guardian — Analysis

Dan Sabbagh, defence & security editor

Five predictions for the next six months in the war in Ukraine

Six months to the day since the start of the Russian invasion, here is what to expect for the next six months


1. The war will probably run on for a year at least but is essentially deadlocked and its intensity is lessening

Six months of war may have gone by, but neither Ukraine nor Russia are ready to stop fighting, despite the losses they have sustained. Ukraine wants its occupied territories back, and Russia wants to keep inflicting pain not just on its opponent but, by proxy, the west also. The Kremlin believes winter will play to its advantage.

There have been no negotiations between the two sides since evidence emerged of the massacres at Bucha, Irpin and elsewhere in territories occupied by the Russians north of Kyiv. But movement in the frontlines has been minimal since the fall of Lysychansk at the end of June. Both sides are struggling for momentum and increasingly appear combat-exhausted.

2. Ukraine has no means of effective conventional counterattack, while guerrilla raids are an optimistic way to precipitate a Russian collapse

Ukraine would like to retake Kherson, on the west of the Dnieper river, but a senior administration figure admitted in private that “we do not have enough capacity to push them back”. Kyiv has shifted its strategy to mounting long-range missile attacks and daring special forces raids on Russian bases deep behind the frontlines.

The key presidential adviser Mykhailo Podolyak said the aim was to “create chaos within the Russian forces”, but while this will blunt the invader’s effectiveness, it is not likely it will lead to invaders collapsing in on themselves and voluntarily conceding Kherson, as some Ukrainian officials have hoped.

3. Russia still wants to pound its way forward but its attention is likely to be shifting to holding on its gains and annexing Ukraine territory

Russia has no new offensive plan other than to mass artillery, destroy towns and cities and grind its way forward. It does this in part because it is effective, and in part to minimise casualties, having lost, on some western estimates, 15,000 dead so far. It continues to adopt this strategy around Bakhmut in the Donbas but progress is slow, partly because it has had to redeploy some forces to reinforce Kherson.

The Kremlin may not have achieved what it hoped at the beginning of the war, but Russia now holds large swathes of Ukrainian territory in the east and south, and is actively talking about holding annexation referendums. With cooler weather fast approaching, it is likely to focus on consolidating what it has.

4. Winter will precipitate a fresh refugee crisis and create an opportunity for whoever can best prepare

Winter is uppermost in strategic thinking for both sides. Ukraine is already anxious about humanitarian issues because there is no gas heating available for apartment blocks in Donetsk province and other frontline areas. One humanitarian official predicted there would be a fresh wave of migration in the winter, with perhaps as many as 2 million people crossing the border into Poland.

Russians sees winter as an opportunity. Ukraine fears Russia will target its energy grid, making its heating dilemma more acute, and could simply turn off the vast Zaporizhzhia nuclear power station. Moscow also wants to prolong the west’s pain over energy costs and has every incentive to rack up the pressure.

Spring, though, could be the time for a renewed attack – each side will want to replenish and prepare for what is likely to be another fighting season.

5. The west needs to decide if it wants Ukraine to win or just hold on – and it needs to match humanitarian help to the huge need

Ukraine would have been defeated without western military aid. But at no point so far has the west supplied enough artillery or other weapons, such as fighter jets, that would allow Kyiv to drive the invaders back. Politicians talk about the need to force Russia to the prewar borders but do not provide enough materiel to do it.

At the same time, Ukraine’s humanitarian need is growing. There is, for example, nowhere near enough money for reconstruction – and many homes north-east and north-west of Kyiv remain ruined five months after the Russians left, often with despairing residents living in garages or temporary structures on site.

People who are displaced internally often have to live in schools or kindergartens, temporary accommodation that people struggle to stay in for an extended period of time. Ukraine has a budget gap of $5bn (£4.2bn) a month because of the war; aid and reconstruction will cost many times that.

Excerpts from the Daily report on the war by the independent Institute for the Study of War: 


Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu stated on August 24 that Russian forces are slowing down the overall pace of their offensive operations in Ukraine while reaffirming that Russia’s objectives in the war have not changed.

At a meeting with defense ministers from member states of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) Shoigu stated that Russian troops will be slowing down the pace of offensive operations in Ukraine in a conscious effort to minimize civilian casualties.[1] Shoigu also reiterated that operations in Ukraine are going according to plan and that Russian forces will accomplish all their objectives, supporting ISW’s assessment that Russia’s maximalist strategic war aims in Ukraine have not changed.[2] The Russian MoD has previously issued similar statements to account for the pace of operations in Ukraine.

  • Shoigu’s statement may also represent an attempt by the Russian MoD to set information conditions to explain and excuse the negligible gains Russian forces have made in Ukraine in the last six weeks. . . .

Mobilization and Force Generation Efforts (Russian objective: Expand combat power without conducting general mobilization)

Russian federal subjects (regions) continued to form new volunteer units to reinforce Russia’s war in Ukraine. Altai Krai announced the formation of five volunteer units: the “Kalashnikov” and “Altai” battalions, the “Skurlatova” and “Katun” companies, and the “Biya” platoon. Local outlets did not specify if Altai Krai will be offering one-time enlistment bonuses but noted advertised monthly salary ranging from 30,000 to 300,000 rubles (about $500 to $5,000).[32]

The Republic of Tatarstan local outlet Biznes Online stated that Russian authorities’ classification of such volunteer formations as “battalions” exaggerates the actual number of recruits in each volunteer unit.[33] The outlet noted that Perm Krai’s ”Parma” Battalion has 90 people and is structurally more consistent with a motorized rifle company.[34]  The outlet noted that Russia did not previously have territory-based volunteer units as was common in the Donetsk and Luhansk People’s Republics (DNR and LNR) since 2014 and that Russian forces may be modeling these units after DNR and LNR proxy units, such as the ”Vostok” and ”Somali” battalions.

Battalion personnel complements range in size in any military based on the specialization of the battalion, but the Russian volunteer units’ advertised complements are low, and reported fill levels are even lower. Most “battalions” (and even some “regiments”) will more likely have the size of reinforced companies. It is also noteworthy that these ad hoc volunteer battalions are not described as battalion tactical groups (BTGs) and do not appear to be structured like BTGs. It is not clear how they are being employed on the battlefield unless they are being assembled with one another or with the remnants of already deployed BTGs.

It is clear that a volunteer “battalion” has nothing like the notional combat power of a battalion tactical group that invaded Ukraine in February, even discounting the inexperience and ages of many volunteers and the very limited training they receive before deploying to combat.

Biznes Online also indicated that recruitment into volunteer units decreased throughout the summer and that local Russian officials are intensifying advertising efforts in certain regions. The outlet claimed that the Republic of Tatarstan had only 10-15 interested recruits at the beginning of the recruitment campaign in early June, and such numbers reportedly tripled by the end of the campaign. The outlet’s report confirmed ISW’s assessment that federal subjects began increasing one-time enlistment bonuses to increase recruitment rates in August.[35]

The outlet added that Russian federal subjects also began advertising military contracts in public transportation and other recruitment campaigns ”behind the scenes,” but noted that the Kremlin-sponsored sources have not shared such advertisements.

The Kremlin is likely attempting to shield Moscow City residents from the military recruitment campaign, which may lead to some social tensions. Kremlin Spokesperson Dmitry Peskov denied any reports of the formation of the Moscow-based “Sobyaninsky Polk” volunteer regiment on July 13, shortly after Russian opposition outlet Meduza reported that Moscow City military commissariats started recruiting labor migrants and residents of different Russian regions into the regiment.[36]

Biznes Online noted that all media discourse regarding the “Sobyaninsky Polk” stopped following Peskov’s denial. The sudden change in reporting may suggest that Moscow City ceased recruitment for the “Sobyaninsky Polk” in an effort to avoid drawing Muscovite criticism of the recruitment campaign. The apparent lack of a Moscow City-based volunteer unit may also spark some criticism from other federal republics. . ..

Key Takeaways

  • Russian forces have lost an area larger than Denmark since the high-water mark of their invasion of Ukraine in mid-March and gained an area the size of Andorra (one percent of what they have lost) in the last 39 days. 
  • Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu reaffirmed that Russia has not changed its maximalist strategic war aims.
  • Russian forces conducted limited ground attacks southwest and southeast of Izyum, northeast and south of Bakhmut, and west and southwest of Donetsk City.
  • Russian forces conducted a limited ground attack in northwestern Kherson Oblast.
  • Ukrainian forces continued to target Russian military assets and ground lines of communication (GLOCs) in Kherson and Zaporizhia Oblasts.
  • Russian occupation authorities continue to face partisan and internal challenges to the administration of occupation agendas.
  • Russian proxy leadership is continuing efforts to oversee the legislative and administrative integration of occupied territories into Russian systems.



Confederate Statue Bulldozed in North Carolina

Raleigh NC News & Observer

Confederate statue is bulldozed as mayor livestreams it, video shows. ‘Not in my town


A North Carolina town watched live online as a bulldozer pushed down its Confederate monument.

Mondale Robinson, the mayor of Enfield, North Carolina, took to Facebook to share a livestream as a Confederate monument in the town’s Randolph Park was demolished by a bulldozer on Sunday, Aug. 21

“Yes, sirs! Death to the Confederacy around here,” Robinson said in the video as a bulldozer knocked the monument over. “Not in my town. Not on my watch.”

Continue reading Confederate Statue Bulldozed in North Carolina

One More Expert Analysis: What Putin “Really” Wants from the Ukraine Invasion

The Guardian — Mon 22 Aug 2022

After six months of bloody and terrible war, what exactly does Putin want from Ukraine?

Russia is trying to demonstrate that Nato is powerless to stop it. Whether it succeeds depends on the west’s political will as energy prices soar?

Nearly six months after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, there is still widespread disagreement in the west on Vladimir Putin’s motives.

This is of more than academic interest. If we do not agree why Putin decided to invade Ukraine and what he wants to achieve, we cannot define what would constitute victory or defeat for either of the warring sides and the contours of a possible endgame.

At some point, like all wars, the present conflict will end. Geography condemns Ukraine and Russia to live beside each other and that is not going to change. They will eventually have to find a modus vivendi. That also applies to Europe and Russia, although it may take decades before the damage is repaired.

Why, then, did Putin stake so much on a high-risk enterprise that will at best bring him a tenuous grip on a ruined land? Continue reading One More Expert Analysis: What Putin “Really” Wants from the Ukraine Invasion