Lazy Caturday Reads

Mariia Pryimachenko, Wild Cat

Mariia Pryimachenko, Wild Cat

Good Morning!!

NOTE: Today’s cat paintings are by Ukrainian artists.

Putin’s attack on Ukraine is not going as smoothly as he probably hoped. In fact he looks isolated by most of the world and is even getting negative feedback from the Russian people and from close neighbor and ally Kazakhstan.

Peter Alexander at NBC News: One of Russia’s closest allies denies request for troops.

Kazakhstan, one of Russia’s closest allies and a southern neighbor, is denying a request for its troops to join the offensive in Ukraine, officials said Friday.

Additionally, the former Soviet republic said it is not recognizing the Russia-created breakaway republics upheld by Russia’s president, Vladimir Putin, as a pretext for its aggression in Ukraine.

Despite ceasefire accords covering the disputed land, Putin on Monday declared Russia’s recognition of Luhansk People’s Republic (LNR) and the Donetsk People’s Republic (DNR) as independent states.

The surprising development from a traditional ally of Russia has the support of the United States.

“We welcome Kazakhstan’s announcement that they will not recognize the LPR and DPR,” the National Security Council said in a statement. “We also welcome Kazakhstan’s refusal to send its forces to join Putin’s war in Ukraine.”

At home in Russia, Putin is struggling to put down popular antiwar protests.

The Economist: Russians greet Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine with dismay, not enthusiasm.

As the sun set over the Kremlin on the first day of Russia’s war against Ukraine, Moscow felt tense. Black cars with tinted windows, flashing lights and police escorts zipped around the city centre. Police vans pushed ordinary cars to the side of the road. It was as though Moscow itself was coming under attack.


Rimma and her cat, by Gubsky Igor

And the “attack” did come, a couple of hours later as several thousand people, mostly young, poured onto the streets holding signs condemning the war their president had unleashed against their brothers and sisters in Ukraine. They chanted, “Net voine” (“No to war”). The same words were splashed with paint on the glass doors of the Russian state Duma, the parliament that had almost unanimously supported the invasion.

The protesters’ faces were crestfallen, gripped by dismay and grief. And they were met with brutality. Helmeted riot police pushed them to the ground and bundled them into vans. Gregory Yudin, a sociologist and left-wing philosopher, was beaten and taken to a police cell before finally being transferred to hospital. On February 24th some 1,700 people were arrested, half of them in Moscow. But anti-war protests also rolled through the country from Siberia to St Petersburg, where more people were detained the following day….

Journalists, artists, celebrities, rockstars and bloggers have been speaking out. “Fear and pain,” wrote Ivan Urgant, a popular host on state-owned television, on his Instagram. Monetochka (“Little coin”), a pop star, published a photo of her own face, weeping, with a sign: “So ashamed!” So far there have been no resignations among senior officials, but neither has there been any enthusiasm for war. Sergei Utkin, a security expert who had previously peddled the Kremlin’s line on foreign policy, wrote on Twitter, “My country is committing a horrible crime in Ukraine that can have no justification…We all bear a part of responsibility. There is no good way out of that.”

A petition against the war has gathered 500,000 signatures in a single day, and is growing. Novaya Gazeta, Russia’s main pro-opposition newspaper, came out in two languages, Russian and Ukrainian. Its editor, Dmitry Muratov, the most recent winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, wrote that Mr Putin “is spinning a nuclear button around his finger like some expensive car key chain…But we can never recognise Ukraine as an enemy. And never will.”

In Kyiv, former comedian and now Ukraine’s president Volodymyr Zelensky is turning out to be an inspirational leader.

CNN: Zelensky refuses US offer to evacuate, saying ‘I need ammunition, not a ride.’

Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky has turned down an offer from the United States of evacuation from the capital city Kyiv, the Ukraine embassy in Britain said Saturday on Twitter.

“The fight is here; I need ammunition, not a ride,” Zelensky told the US, according to the embassy.

“Ukrainians are proud of their President,” the tweet adds.

Cat in the Strawberry, dedicated to Mariia Pryimachenko, by Olesya Kaznokh

Cat in the Strawberry, dedicated to Mariia Pryimachenko, by Olesya Kaznokh

In a video posted on Saturday morning entitled “do not believe the fakes,” Zelensky revealed that he is still in Kyiv.

“I am here. We are not putting down arms. We will be defending our country, because our weapon is truth, and our truth is that this is our land, our country, our children, and we will defend all of this,” he said.

“That is it. That’s all I wanted to tell you. Glory to Ukraine,” he added….

“According to our information, the enemy marked me as target №1, my family – as target №2,” Zelensky said Thursday.

“They want to destroy Ukraine politically by destroying the head of state. We have information that enemy sabotage groups have entered Kyiv.”

An American businessman with close ties to Volodymyr Zelensky says the Ukrainian president was “calm and businesslike” when they talked yesterday, even as Russian troops pressed on toward Kyiv and the volume of rocket attacks on the capital soared.

“He seemed reluctant to leave the country,” said the businessman, who has extensive projects in the country and asked not to be identified because of the fraught security situation.

“U.S. officials were urging him to leave. He feared he’d never be able to come back.”

Zelensky’s position hardened Friday when he posted a defiant video in which he said he and his government were “defending our independence” from the Russian invasion.

“We are all here,” he said, surrounded by senior advisers and his prime minister.

“Our troops are here, citizens are here. All of us are here protecting the independence of our country.

“And it will continue to be this way.”

On Thursday evening he told European Union leaders “this might be the last time you see me alive,” according to Axios.

Reports on the progress of Putin’s attack:

The New York Times: Russia’s Assault in Ukraine Slows After an Aggressive Start.

The Fat Cat, by Olena Kamenetska-Ostapchuk

The Fat Cat, by Olena Kamenetska-Ostapchuk

On the first day of President Vladimir V. Putin’s invasion of Ukraine, his generals and troops followed a textbook strategy for land invasions. They attacked the country’s military installations and air defense systems with missiles launched from the air, sea and land, seeking to take ownership of the skies, and sped forces to Kyiv, the capital, with the goal of decapitating the government of the democratically elected president, Volodymyr Zelensky.

But then, things slowed. It is one thing to cross the border of another country with tanks and artillery, protected by warplanes above, Pentagon officials and analysts say. It is another thing entirely to lay siege to cities and an army populated by people willing to put their lives on the line to protect what they view as their sovereign right to self-determination.

Within a day of entering Ukraine, Russian forces lost some momentum, senior American and British officials said, as Ukrainian fighters mounted a resistance. No population centers had been taken, a senior Defense Department official told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday. Nor had Russia yet managed to achieve air superiority over Ukraine, partly because the Ukrainians are using mobile systems and partly because Russian missiles have hit old air defense sites, which could show a flaw in Russia’s intelligence. The Ukrainian air defense and missile defense systems were degraded, he said, but the country’s air force was still flying planes and denying air access to Russia.

In addition, officials said, Russia was conducting most of its initial operations during the day, suggesting that its ability to fight at night — a hallmark of the American military — was less effective.

Read the rest at the NYT.

From CNN this morning: Battle moves into Kyiv as Ukrainians fight to keep control of their capital.

Ukrainian troops held the capital Kyiv for the third day on Saturday, despite Russia’s stronger military power, after a night of fierce fighting that punctuated the city with sounds of explosions and gunfire.

The country’s President Volodymyr Zelensky remained defiant. Despite being a prime target in the invasion, he turned down a US offer of evacuation, the Ukraine embassy in Britain said Saturday on Twitter….

But as Russia’s war of aggression moves to the streets of the Ukrainian capital, with the country’s outnumbered and outgunned military continuing to hold back the invading forces in multiple locations, more reports are emerging of civilian infrastructure being hit.

Ukrainian folk art, artist unknown

Ukrainian folk art, artist unknown

Early Saturday, a large residential apartment block in the west of Kyiv was struck by a missile or rocket, as residents across the city were forced to seek shelter after a terrifying night of fighting.

Images and video from the scene showed a large impact some ten floors up in the building, with the cause of the strike unclear and the extent of casualties unknown. Several apartment units were blown out entirely, their outer walls and windows missing, leaving a gaping hole visible in the building’s side, as residents were evacuated.

“Active fighting is taking place on the streets of our city. Please stay calm and be as careful as possible!” the Ukrainian Interior Ministry said on its Facebook page Saturday, calling on residents to “hide indoors” and take cover to prevent injury from bullet fragments.

The resistance to Russia’s invasion has seen civilians prepare to defend their capital in recent days, with officials arming reservists with 18,000 guns and ammunition in Kyiv alone and Ukrainian TV broadcasting instructions for making Molotov cocktails.

Ukrainian troops are fighting against a significantly more advanced military power. Russian defense spending is roughly ten times that of Kyiv’s and its armed forces stand at some 900,000 active personnel and 2 million in reserve, versus Ukraine’s 196,000 and 900,000 reservists.

Britain’s Ministry of Defense said Russia has yet to gain control of Ukrainian airspace “greatly reducing the effectiveness of the Russian Air Force.” Russia has also faced “staunch resistance” from Ukrainian Armed Forces, it said in a Saturday intelligence update shared on Twitter.

But it stressed that the bulk of Russian forces are now only 18.6 miles from the center of Kyiv, warning that casualties are “likely to be heavy and greater than anticipated or acknowledged by the Kremlin.”

More Ukraine/Putin stories to check out:

The Economist on Biden’s sanctions: America has targeted Russia’s technological fabric.

Michael D. Weiss at Time: Even If Russia Wins, It Won’t Do So Easily.

Jason Stanley at The Guardian: The antisemitism animating Putin’s claim to ‘denazify’ Ukraine.

Max Seddon at Financial Times: Vladimir Putin, Russia’s resentful leader, takes the world to war.

Douglas McGrath at Air Mail with a terrific piece on the GOP worship of Trump and Putin: The View from Here. Ukraine is attacked and Trumpists swoon over Vlad the Invader. With global and U.S. democracy in peril, the G.O.P. is M.I.A.

Eric Wemple at The Washington Post: Opinion: How did Tucker Carlson turn into a Putin apologist?

I’ll add more news links in the comment thread. I hope you all have a nice weekend!

42 Comments on “Lazy Caturday Reads”

  1. bostonboomer says:

  2. bostonboomer says:

    HuffPost: GOP Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene Speaks At White Nationalist Conference

    ORLANDO, Fla. — Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene (R-Ga.) spoke at a white nationalist conference in Florida on Friday evening.

    Greene, a QAnon conspiracist and rabidly anti-trans Republican, was the surprise speaker at the third annual America First Political Action Conference in Orlando, organized by white nationalist figurehead Nick Fuentes.

    Fuentes, an antisemite and racist who attended the deadly 2017 white supremacist rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, and who was recently subpoenaed for his involvement in the Jan. 6, 2021, attack on the U.S. Capitol, excitedly introduced Greene as the featured speaker from behind a lectern inside the Marriott Orlando World Center, according to a livestream of the event. (HuffPost was denied entrance to AFPAC.)

    In her speech, Greene referred to the assembled AFPAC crowd — among them prominent right-wing extremists who have been photographed giving the Nazi salute and reciting the infamous “14 words,” a white supremacist slogan — as “canceled Americans.”

    “You’ve been handed the responsibility to fight for our Constitution and stand for our freedoms, and stop the Democrats who are the communist party of the United States of America,” Greene said.

  3. bostonboomer says:

    CNN: Georgia GOP chair tells January 6 committee that Trump campaign directed alternate elector effort

    The chairman of the Republican Party in Georgia on Friday told the House select committee investigating the January 6 riot that the Trump campaign had directed the party in 2020 to put forward an alternate slate of electors after then-President Donald Trump lost the state’s vote, according to a person familiar with the testimony.

    The Trump campaign’s direct involvement in efforts to put forward so-called “fake” slates of electors in multiple states after Biden’s win was previously reported by CNN, but it was not yet known if anyone involved had spoken about the campaign’s directions to investigators.
    The fake electors effort is now seen by the committee as a political disinformation tactic used to sow doubt in Joe Biden’s win before the January 6, 2021, Electoral College vote certification in Washington. CNN previously reported that Trump outside lawyer Rudy Giuliani and the Trump campaign had been involved in organizing illegitimate elector slates in seven states.

    David Shafer, chair of the GOP in Georgia, served as one of several bogus electors for Trump and had convened Republicans in the state’s Capitol to put together an alternate elector certification in December 2020. He also was a plaintiff in a long-shot legal attempt for Trump to overturn the election in Georgia.

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    • NW Luna says:

      What’s with this endemic use of “literally” when it’s ridiculous and unnecessary? But yes, because the Ukrainians are civilized people and have a good-hearted leader.

  10. dakinikat says:

    you know who to boycott

  11. dakinikat says:

    BB!! look!!!

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  16. djmm says:

    So much beautiful art today – so much talent from Ukraine! I have to say that I like the last kitty the very best — the patriotic kitty on the person’s shoulder with the blue and yellow colors.

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