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Emrys's Journal
Emrys's Journal
February 21, 2024

Institute for the Study of War Russian Offensive Campaign Assessment, February 19, 2024

Russian actors conducted a cyber operation regarding Russia’s seizure of Avdiivka, likely aimed at generating panic in the Ukrainian information space and weakening Ukrainian morale. Ukraine’s State Special Communication Service reported on February 18 that Russian actors hacked well-known Ukrainian media outlets and posted fake information on their social media channels.[1] Ukrainian outlets Ukrainska Pravda, Apostrophe, Liga.net, and Telegraf reported on February 18 that their social media accounts were hacked and that hackers posted disinformation, specifically about the alleged widespread destruction of Ukrainian forces in Avdiivka.[2] The Russian Ministry of Defense (MoD) issued new claims about the Ukrainian withdrawal from Avdiivka on February 19 aimed at sowing resentment and distrust against the Ukrainian command, and other Russian sources amplified this information operation.[3]

[1] https://t.me/dsszzi_official/6758
[2] https://news.liga.net/politics/news/sayt-liganet-byl-vzloman-neizvestnye-opublikovali-rossiyskuyu-dezinformatsiyu-ob-avdeevke ; https://www.pravda.com.ua/news/2024/02/18/7442445/
[3] https://t.me/mod_russia/35759 ; https://t.me/prigozhin_2023_tg/7971 ; https://t.me/NeoficialniyBeZsonoV/33327

February 18, 2024

Post Office boss: I was told to stall compensation to help Tories

Henry Staunton had only been in post since 2022. But when he was sacked he says Kemi Badenoch told him: ‘Someone’s got to take the rap’

The first Henry Staunton knew of his imminent ousting as Post Office chairman was when he received a call from Sky News on a Saturday afternoon last month. He hadn’t even met Kemi Badenoch, the business secretary, but she phoned him shortly afterwards to confirm the government was sacking him.

According to Staunton, Badenoch did not apologise for the manner in which he discovered his fate. He said she referred to the Horizon scandal, which saw more than 900 sub-postmasters and others wrongly prosecuted between 1999 and 2015 based on flaws in the Post Office’s accounting software, and said: “Well, someone’s got to take the rap for this.”
He was more shocked by the attitude he encountered in Whitehall. “Early on, I was told by a fairly senior person to stall on spending on compensation and on the replacement of Horizon, and to limp, in quotation marks — I did a file note on it — limp into the election,” he said. “It was not an anti-postmaster thing, it was just straight financials. I didn’t ask, because I said, ‘I’m having no part of it – I’m not here to limp into the election, it’s not the right thing to do by postmasters.’ The word ‘limp’ gives you a snapshot of where they were.”

The government said: “We utterly refute these allegations. The government has sped up compensation to victims, and consistently encouraged postmasters to come forward with their claims. To suggest any actions or conversations happened to the contrary is incorrect. In fact, upon appointment, Mr Staunton was set concrete objectives, in writing, to focus on reaching settlements with claimants – clear evidence of the government’s intent. The secretary of state asked Henry Staunton to step down as chairman of the Post Office because a change in leadership was needed.”


Full text version with no paywall available here: https://www.reddit.com/r/ukpolitics/comments/1atpht2/post_office_boss_i_was_told_to_stall_compensation/
February 17, 2024

Czech President says Czechia found way to get 800,000 shells for Ukraine

Details: Pavel spoke at a panel discussion with the leaders of 5 EU member states and commented on the challenges of supplying weapons and ammunition to the Ukrainian Armed Forces. He said Prague had found a way to arrange such supplies.

Pavel noted that Czechia "looks for military supplies around the world and then works with our NATO partners" and specifically mentioned Denmark, the Netherlands, and Canada, which have provided resources to bring military equipment to Czechia. "And then we promptly transport it to Ukraine," he explained.

Pavel added that Czechia had been successful in searching for it.

Quote: "So far, we have found half a million 155mm shells and 300,000 122mm shells, which we can ship [to Ukraine] in a few weeks provided we have the funding. We will address our partners in the United States, Germany, Sweden, etc., for such assistance," he said.


The Brussels-based Politico reported in early February that Czechia was looking into the possibility of acquiring ammunition from arms companies in countries such as South Korea, Turkey and South Africa.

February 14, 2024

"Stalemate" relies on accepting the parameters media pundits have chosen to apply,

as if they were describing plays on a sports field by focusing solely on the goal line and ignoring what's developing on the rest of the arena.

Take a look a Crimea and its surrounding waters. Absorb the progressive deliberate and painstaking attrition of Russian air defences and leadership and support resources, the vulnerability of the Kerch bridge and the ongoing near daily toll on Russian sea power - not insignificant as many of those platforms can be used to launch missile attacks on Ukrainian civilian targets. Tell me the situation there looks like a stalemate, and I'll just have to respond, "That judgement may not age well."

As it is, whatever our regrets about the toll in human lives - and the environment - and believe me I have plenty, every doom-laden verdict any of us express on the outcome plays into Putin's hands and joins the chorus from some compromised US Republicans and their glib fellow travellers to the tune that America is just pouring good money after bad (never mind the fact that most of that money is bolstering US industries), and capitulation had better come sooner rather than later.

Capitulation may feel different for Americans than it does for those of us in Europe, closer to the front lines. We've already been there in the First and Second World Wars.

It's no surprise that the Russian botnets on social media are singing from the same songsheet. Let's not join in.

February 12, 2024

Then it seems Carlson's vanity doesn't extend to checking out Russian state media

If he had, he'd have seen hours of raving genocidal fantasies about sweeping through and subjugating the whole of Europe, mixed in with joyous praise of his efforts on Putin's behalf.

He wouldn't even need to do any research, just check out Julia Davis's Russian Media Monitor Twitter feed:


Julia Davis

For years, I've been writing about Russia's preoccupation with Tucker Carlson and the enormous value of his propaganda for the Kremlin. Here is just a tiny sliver of Russia's Tuckermania. Watch, so you can be reminded how we got here.

February 11, 2024

Twitter video version:

Biden-Harris HQ

Trump says he would encourage Russia to attack NATO allies: I said I would not protect our NATO allies. In fact, I would encourage Russia to do whatever the hell they want

[Twitter video]


Since this is based on one of Trump's reports of someone addressing him "Sir ...", there's every chance the exchange never happened, but the speech above certainly did.

January 23, 2024

AI is key to Ukraine's victory, says new analysis

Western experts argue that the development of AI in the Ukraine war is striking.

Ukrainian AI outperforms US and China

The pace of AI development in Ukraine is more impressive than in the US and China, claims Benjamin Jensen, a senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies’ Future of Warfare Initiative.

“Ukraine is doing it because they’re building it from the bottom up, and it’s antifragile … it’s small, it’s scalable, it works, and they know what to do it. We’re trying to do it very Pentagonese from the top down, which means we’re going to spend tens of billions of dollars for a couple of high-profile failures versus spending,” Jensen explained to Fox News.

The US media explains to Americans that programmers and engineers are involved in AI applications in Ukraine. Many drones are made in “kitchens,” and then successful practices are launched into mass production rather than imposed by authorities.

In the war, Ukraine leverages Western AI developments for diverse tasks – collecting evidence of war crimes and locating suspected war criminals; controlling drones and targeting; detecting Russian disinformation and propaganda; demining; and reconstruction planning.


The article continues under the headings "Ukraine still relies on US", "Warnings for Ukraine" and "Russia’s “cyber-gulag”", and links to further articles titled:

Hear and destroy: Ukrainian artificial intelligence project Zvook helps shoot down Russian missiles

Ukraine seeks to expand battlefield tech with AI integration

Five Ukrainian defense tech startups taking on Russia’s brute force
January 21, 2024

"I've never used Twitter"

I think you could have stopped there.

It's no surprise that those who have little or no experience of Twitter have no idea what good it's achieved, and is still achieving despite Musk's antics, which seemingly doesn't stop them having the strongest and most vociferous views about it.

Without it, I would have far less knowledge of what's happening in Ukraine unfiltered through the conventional media, and also in my own country, Scotland, for instance. Not a day goes by when I don't find worthwhile content on there. It's not hard to block the crap, and I've had long practice of doing that and ferreting out accounts that have proven to be trustworthy and worthwhile over a number of years. You don't feel the need for it or see any worth in it, having never used it, but nevertheless dismiss it and social media as a whole as "a useless cesspool of lies and misinformation" and "a stupid waste of one’s time".

As for Threads, those who rail against Musk seem happy to ignore the terrible track record of Meta and Mark Zuckerberg on various issues, including heavy-handed censorship of news feeds, highly intrusive and abusive exploitation of personal data, numerous awful and massive security breaches, and being implicated in warping politics in the USA, UK etc. Facebook, part of Meta, was much more responsible for boosting Trump and his ilk than Twitter or any other social media ever were. That's one reason Musk tried to subvert Twitter.

They also seem OK with the fact that Zuckerberg and his management have said clearly and repeatedly that they don't intend hard news to be a significant feature of Threads and won't do anything to encourage it because it's too much trouble. Its numbers are boosted by those who have Instagram accounts, many of whom are hardcore members of fandom, which I have no interest in, and generally block on Twitter because they just provide so much noise and meaningless (to me) nonsense.

The accounts I view regularly on Twitter aren't bailing out to Threads, if they're setting up insurance accounts anywhere in case Twitter goes *poof*, it's most often BlueSky, which has and will have its own issues.

January 9, 2024

Putinism hides its failures just like communism

By Janusz Bugajski

Vladimir Putin’s propaganda is bombarding the West with claims of military success in Ukraine, of Russia’s economic growth despite international sanctions, and of widespread global support for the Kremlin. In reality, Moscow’s alleged triumphs are based on the same illusions and deceptions as its failed communist past, in which the Soviet Union was supposedly destined to surpass the West.

Russian leaders are trying to convince Western leaders that Ukraine is losing the war in order to terminate military assistance for Kyiv. In reality, the war is disastrous for Russia. Although the Ukrainian counteroffensive stalled in Donbas and Zaporizhzhia for the winter, after defeating Russian forces in Kyiv, Kharkiv, and Kherson, the Russian army is being decimated, and its navy has been pushed back from the western part of the Black Sea. During two years of combat, Russia has lost at least 315,000 killed or severely wounded, from a ground force of some 360,000 that invaded Ukraine. It has also sustained huge losses in equipment, including 2,200 out of some 3,500 tanks and a third of its armored vehicles.
Until it receives new supplies of weapons and ammunition, Ukraine has temporarily switched its operations from offense to attritional defense in order to kill the maximum number of Russian soldiers. Russia cannot sustain the kinds of losses it is experiencing in the battle over Avdiivka, where about 40,000 recruits have perished in the past three months. Ukraine does not need to launch a major counteroffensive to regain territory but simply to maximize Russian losses until the occupation becomes untenable. Increased supplies of artillery shells for Kyiv will multiply Russian casualties, while long-range rocketry and fighter jets will help destroy Russia’s logistical chains.

Much like their communist predecessors, Moscow’s current rulers also claim that Russia’s economy is growing. In reality, GDP growth in 2023 has only been sustained through massive infusions of cash into the military-industrial sector. The rest of the economy is sinking, shortages are spreading, infrastructure is collapsing, and inflation is rampant. The Kremlin’s war economy is not supportable in the longer term and cannot provide economic growth, especially as Western sanctions are tightening, its military products are demolished in Ukraine, and fewer workers will be available because of war losses and the mass exodus of young Russians. In sum, Russia has little prospect of economic development and is facing increasing social unrest.

January 9, 2024

'Shocking' Reality of Ukraine Blowback Hammers Putin at Home

Even the Kremlin’s propagandists can no longer cover up the brutal impact on ordinary Russians caused by Vladimir Putin’s war in Ukraine.

Julia Davis

For years, Russian government officials and state media propagandists have been claiming that Western sanctions don’t cause any real harm to their economy and to the contrary, actually help it develop. But the main industry that seems to be thriving despite the sanctions is the country’s military-industrial complex. As for everyday people, their lives are progressively getting worse.
In 2023, therapists reported an increase in complaints about permanent stress and financial worries. The poorest Russians, including pensioners, suffer the most. Just in time for the holidays, the price of eggs in Russia shot up by 40 percent or more and their availability greatly diminished. Some regions started to limit the number of eggs an individual could buy, with some stores even selling them individually. This was an especially sensitive issue, since a traditional New Year’s salad, the Olivier, requires eggs as one of its main ingredients. During his annual televised event, Direct Line, Putin had to apologize for the rising egg prices—a fact that even state TV propagandists described as “shocking.”
Russian State Duma Deputy Speaker Vladislav Davankov, who filed his paperwork to the Central Election Commission to take part in the 2024 presidential campaign, accused the Federal State Statistics Service of fudging the numbers “to make it seem that all is well with the prices.” He said that prices on many items, including rice, grains, and butter, are rising 10-30 percent faster than officials claim. “When statistics diverge from reality, it is impossible to make effective decisions to curb prices,” Davankov added.

According to official statistics, basic food products sharply rose in price: eggs by 59 percent, tomatoes by 52 percent, bananas by 46.5 percent, cabbage by 29 percent, poultry by 27.7 percent, and apples by 20.7 percent.

Polls reveal that two-thirds of Russians complain about the prices rising at a faster pace—and that Russians in general are tired of war, with over 50 percent of participants hoping for the end of the so-called “special military operation” as their biggest wish for 2024. Witnessing Western hesitation to continue aid to Ukraine, Putin is unlikely to grant the wish of his own citizens anytime soon. Russian lawmakers and other state TV propagandists promise an expanded agenda, with all of Ukraine on the menu. Encouraged by the disarray in the U.S., they hope for a civil war in America that will permanently distract the country from helping Moscow’s intended victims.


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