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‘Ты потопил мой линкор!’ (‘You Sank My Battleship!’)

Not a game: Clever Ukrainians deliver humiliating blow to Russia's Black Sea fleet
Screen Shot 2022-04-15 at 12.17.39 AM

“Ты потопил мой линкор!” which is Russian for, “You sank my battleship!”:

The Russian Defense Ministry said its damaged naval flagship Moskva had sunk in the Black Sea while being towed in a storm. Ukraine had claimed it hit the cruiser with two missiles. Moscow has denied that the ship was struck, but acknowledged it was on fire.

The sinking of the warship is a blow to Russian forces that could also have strategic consequences.

The flagship of the Black Sea fleet! Humiliating. Here’s a Daily Mail story with a great graphic explaining how the Ukrainians tricked the Russian ship’s defenses. (They used decoy drones to fool the ship’s defense system while sending Neptune missiles skimming over the waves.)

Meanwhile, an ominous warning:

The director of the C.I.A. said on Thursday that Vladimir V. Putin’s “potential desperation” to extract the semblance of a victory in Ukraine might tempt him to order the use of a tactical or low-yield nuclear weapon, publicly discussing for the first time a concern that has coursed through the White House during the seven weeks of conflict.

The director, William J. Burns, served as American ambassador to Russia and is the member of the administration who has dealt most often with Mr. Putin. He said the potential detonation of a limited nuclear weapon — even as a warning shot — was a possibility that the United States remained “very concerned” about. But Mr. Burns quickly cautioned that so far, despite Mr. Putin’s frequent invocation of nuclear threats, he had seen no “practical evidence” of the kinds of military deployments or movement of weapons that would suggest such a development was imminent.

Matt Taibbi has helped launch Russian Dissent, a new online platform for essays by dissidents unable to publish in Russia. Here’s an essay on it by Boris Kagarlitsky. Excerpts:

The Blitzkrieg failed, and Russia finds itself in a tough confrontation not only with the united West, but practically with the whole world. Even China, whose help some perhaps naively hoped for, does not show us the slightest pity, and instead, cynically profits off our difficulties.

It is significant that the hostilities, which began under the pretext of the need to move NATO away from our borders, have already led to the opposite result: two of our neighboring countries – Sweden and Finland – have decided to abandon their neutral status. Moreover, in Finland this happened at the request of the people. Now NATO can, if desired, deploy missiles a few tens of kilometers from St. Petersburg. The requirements regarding the neutrality of Ukraine have lost all meaning. NATO has already come closer to Russia than it would be even if Kyiv joined; from the Finnish border to St. Petersburg, the distance is several times less than from Kharkiv to Moscow.

And note that in the case of Ukraine, before February 24th, the fear was of the “potential possibility” of the country joining the North Atlantic Alliance, a possibility that could still be counteracted by diplomatic and political measures. In the case of Finland and Sweden, this, against the backdrop of hostilities in Ukraine, has already become fact. Both countries, who carefully guarded their neutral status for decades, decided to abandon it after the strikes on Ukraine. A worthy “result” of the special operation!

How about that: Finland joining NATO out of fear of Russia means that Ukraine’s status — neutral or not — no longer matters. More:

There are only two options for getting out of this situation: negotiate or cause a nuclear apocalypse. And even if some part of humanity has a chance of survival, most Russians will not. Not everyone will die. But we shouldn’t delude ourselves about a paradise either. First, there will be hell.

Read it all.

The stunning defeat of the Tsar’s forces in the Russo-Japanese War of 1903 was a catalyst for the 1905 revolution. The catastrophic loss of the First World War led to the overthrow of the monarchy entirely. As Kagarlitsky points out elsewhere in his essay, even if Russia prevails on the battlefield, there is no way Russian forces can successfully occupy a hostile Ukraine. I can see why the Hungarians and the Romanians I’ve been talking to are still very, very concerned about this war going wider. It’s not that they fear that Putin actually wants to take their territory. It’s fear that a cornered wolverine might do something insane.