Today We Are All Telling Russian Warships, 'Go F*ck Yourself'
Invading Russian troops have reached the outskirts of the capital, Kyiv, according to the Ukrainian government. The capital's mayor, Vitaly Klitschko, said that
"Shots and explosions are ringing out in some neighborhoods saboteurs have already entered Kyiv. The enemy wants to put the capital on its knees and destroy us," the former boxer told a news briefing.
Earlier reports said that Russian saboteurs had entered the city as Russian forces, including tanks, approached on the city from various directions. Gunfire was heard near the government district earlier in the day.
The New York Times reports that officials have asked residents of Kyiv to stay indoors and to "prepare Molotov cocktails" to resist invading Russian troops. Missiles have been falling on the capital, and at least one rocket hit an apartment building.
The Russian Defense Ministry says its troops have blocked off the western side of Kyiv by capturing an airfield about 10 miles outside the city.
The BBC reports that tanks have been sighted in Kyiv, and that the Ukrainian government has issued "18,000 guns to volunteers, as well as issuing instructions on how to make petrol bombs."
Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskyy said today that he is willing to discuss "security guarantees for our country and its neutral status." The Kremlin said that it's ready to hold talks, although it's not clear yet what conditions Moscow wants for talks to begin, the Times reports. Kremlin spokesperson Dmitri Peskov said that Russian President Vladimir Putin is willing to send a delegation to Belarus for talks.
“As you know, today the President of Ukraine Zelensky announced his readiness to discuss the neutral status of Ukraine,” [...] Peskov, said in remarks reported by Russian news agencies. “In this context, in response to Zelensky’s proposal, Vladimir Putin is ready to send a Russian delegation to Minsk at the level of representatives of the Ministry of Defense, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and the presidential administration for negotiations with the Ukrainian delegation.”
The Times was careful to point out that "Whether such a proposal was viable or made in good faith was not immediately clear."
CNN adds that Russian state news media said Peskov also said that "the demilitarization and denazification of Ukraine" — an extremely offensive call for the fall of Ukraine's government, particularly since Zelensky is Jewish — remains "an integral component of neutral status."
'Russian Warship, Go Fuck Yourself'
13 Ukrainian border guards on a Black Sea outpost called Snake Island were killed Thursday after they refused to surrender to a Russian Navy vessel demanding they lay their arms. But first, they gave the world an iconic moment of defiance that seems likely to be remembered in all historic accounts of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. Here's a video that includes a recording of the radio transmissions, which has been confirmed as authentic by the Ukrainian government:
Russian Navy ship: This is a Russian warship. I propose you lay down your weapons and surrender to avoid bloodshed and unnecessary victims. Otherwise you will be bombed.
The ship repeated the demand to surrender and demanded a reply. A Ukrainian guard muttered, "Well, fuck these [guys] too, right?" and "Just in case..." then transmitted the message, "Russian warship, go fuck yourself!"
The outpost was then hit by airstrikes, killing all 13 Ukrainians, according to an adviser to the Ukrainian Interior minister.
President Zelenskyy said on his website Thursday that the border guards "died heroically. But they did not give up. All of them will be posthumously awarded the title of Hero of Ukraine." Also too, we like that Reuters used the un-asterisked word in its headline and article, with a brief note reading "Language some may find offensive in headline and paragraph 5."
The line immediately became a meme on Ukrainian language social media:
This meme has been doing the rounds. It says "go fuck yourself". The defiant last words of 13 Ukrainian border guards on Snake Island in the Black Sea, after they were given an ultimatum by a Russian warship to surrender or die.pic.twitter.com/Hjik712JgF— Aubrey Belford (@Aubrey Belford) 1645758418
The Ukrainian defiance also struck many as an echo of the one-word answer that US Army General Anthony C. McAuliffe gave the Nazis when they demanded his troops surrender at the Battle of the Bulge: "Nuts!" [Reuters]
Update / disclaimer: per Mark Pitcavage, Senior Research Fellow at the ADL's Center on Extremism, a cautious reminder that "confirmed by the Ukrainian government" is not the same as "independently confirmed," and there is so far no independent confirmation of this story, sigh.
Just bc you (rightly) are sympathetic to Ukraine, don't forego critical thinking; there are things floating around that could be pro-Ukraine propaganda (the good rule of thumb is the more you want something to be true, the more you should scrutinize it).https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nayirah_testimony\u00a0\u2026— Mark Pitcavage (@Mark Pitcavage) 1645764271
Just because you (rightly) are sympathetic to Ukraine, don't forego critical thinking; there are things floating around that could be pro-Ukraine propaganda (the good rule of thumb is the more you want something to be true, the more you should scrutinize it).
He links to the Wikipedia entry on the woman who testified to Congress about supposed Iraqi war crimes in Kuwait — and who turned out to be a Kuwaiti diplomat's daughter passing on false stories. It's a valid point: if the Snake Island story is confirmed, then yes, it'll belong in the history of the conflict. If not, it may belong in the history of propaganda. Time will tell, but the "Go fuck yourself" to Russia still applies.
New Sanctions Coming
German Foreign Minister Annalena Baerbock said today that the European Union will escalate its sanctions again, this time imposing economic sanctions on Vladimir Putin and Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov, CNN reports.
"We now also list the President of the Republic Mr. Putin and the Minister of Foreign Affairs Mr. Lavrov," Baerbock told reporters on her way into the EU Foreign Affairs Council in Brussels on Friday.
"They are responsible for the fact that innocent people die in Ukraine, they are responsible for the fact that the international system is trampled upon and we as Europeans do not accept that.”
The latest sanctions come on top of earlier measures aimed at Russian banks and oligarchs. [CNN]
Kyiv May Fall Quickly, Biden Administration Tells Congress
For all the bravery and resistance, the New York Times reports that the Biden administration warned Congress last night that Kyiv may soon fall to Russian forces, although the US will keep arming the Ukrainian military in whatever ways it can.
In two unclassified briefings to members of the Senate and House, who are currently away from Washington on recess, the officials warned lawmakers that the Ukrainian capital was under siege by Russian forces from the north, south and east, though they did not provide a specific time frame for when it could fall. [...]
“Where and when possible, we will continue to provide military support,” said Representative John Garamendi, Democrat of California and a senior member of the Armed Services Committee. “That was very clearly said.”
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin also acknowledged that the job of getting additional weapons to Ukraine was being made difficult by Russia's control over Ukrainian airspace. [NYT]
Putin Lies Some More About Ukrainian Leaders, Military
In remarks on Russian TV today, Vladimir Putin called for the Ukrainian military to surrender, and we can only assume that most Ukrainian soldiers replied, "Go Fuck Yourself." Putin also dismissed Zelenskyy's government as "a band of drug addicts and neo-Nazis.”
The New York Times reports that Putin
— apparently trying to assuage fears in the Russian public of a bloody war with a neighbor — claimed that most of the Russian army’s fighting so far had been with “nationalist groups,” not with the regular Ukrainian army.
“Take power into your own hands,” he said, addressing Ukrainian soldiers. “It looks like it will be easier for us to come to an agreement with you than with this gang of drug addicts and neo-Nazis who lodged themselves in Kyiv and took the entire Ukrainian people hostage.”
The Times added that this probably "suggested that he was not seriously planning to engage Mr. Zelensky in peace talks, despite the Kremlin’s offer earlier in the day." [NYT]
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