Tuesday: Hili dialogue

October 11, 2022 • 6:45 am

Greetings on the cruelest day: Tuesday, October 11, 2022: the last day of Fat Bear Week (be sure to vote!).

A bit of Nooz: Putin, taking the advice of his hard-line generals and military advisors, launched missile attacks at civilian targets in 11 Ukrainian cities on Sunday. Previously, Russia insisted (they were lying, of course) that its targets in Ukraine were restricted to military ones.

This means that NATO is almost obligated to provide more missiles for Ukrainian air defense. Already Ukraine claims to have shot down several Russian cruise missiles, and the G7 countries (Canada, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the UK, and the US) have scheduled an emergency virtual meeting to decide how to respond to Russia’s new butchery.  According to the NYT link, the Russian strike, presumably prompted by the destruction of their bridge to Crimea, was meant not so much to cripple Ukraine’s military as to destroy civilian infrastructure.

If Russia decides to use tactical nuclear weapons, I have no idea what NATO and other Western countries would do. Do readers have any guesses?

Today’s Google Doodle (click on screenshot) goes to a YouTube video animation celebrating the life of Tito Puente, songwriter, musician, producer, and bandleader, most famous for writing the song “Oye Como Va“. Since he was born on April 20, 1923, and died on June 1, 2000, it’s not clear why today is his day, but it is National Hispanic Heritage Month, and Puente was born in New York to Puerto Rican parents.

But on to Dobrzyn, where Hili is inspecting the front yard

Hili: The walnuts have to be picked.
A: They were picked yesterday.
Hili: Probably new ones have fallen.
In Polish:
Hili: Trzeba pozbierać orzechy.
Ja: Wczoraj były zbierane.
Hili: Pewnie spadły nowe.

And a photo of Szaron at the window taken by Paulina:

Several readers sent me this awesome tweet of Larry the Cat chasing a FOX away from 10 Downing Street. One would expect no less from the Chief Mouser to the Cabinet Office.

23 thoughts on “Tuesday: Hili dialogue

  1. [T]he Russian strike, presumably prompted by the destruction of their bridge to Crimea
    Vlad explicitly said that the strikes were in revenge according to the BBC yesterday.

  2. The US and its allies would destroy Russia’s troops and equipment in Ukraine – as well as sink its Black Sea fleet – if the Russian president, Vladimir Putin, uses nuclear weapons in the country, former CIA director and retired four-star army general David Petraeus warned on Sunday.

    He told ABC News: “Just to give you a hypothetical, we would respond by leading a Nato – a collective – effort that would take out every Russian conventional force that we can see and identify on the battlefield in Ukraine and also in Crimea and every ship in the Black Sea.”
    (From The Guardian)

    1. How much of that from Petraeus is bluff? If Putin had indeed just used nuclear weapons, would we really escalate into a direct NATO vs Russia war?

      1. Yes. I don’t think that the West would have any other option than to follow through and use conventional weapons to do just as Petraeus said.

        To not do this would just embolden Putin even more, and probably make it more likely that China would attempt to invade Taiwan.

    2. I agree. This is what quite a few ex-military leaders and analysts are saying. The U.S. and its allies would retain the moral high ground and use only conventional weapons to destroy Russia’s forces in Ukraine. If Putin uses nuclear weapons but the west refrains, the theory goes, Russia would not only lose its forces in Ukraine, it would also lose whatever support it is getting from China and other sympathizers.

      Are Petraeus and the other analysts bluffing about this kind of response? I don’t know. I hope it doesn’t come to this, but I am not optimistic. Ukraine will not be in a mood to negotiate, now that Russia is brazenly attacking civilian targets throughout the country. And the U.S. and its allies may be reluctant to negotiate now because negotiating with Russia now would send the message to Putin that nuclear saber-rattling indeed does work. After all, his threat to go nuclear is precisely calibrated to intimidate Ukraine and the west into engaging in negotiations. Leaders in the west know this and don’t want to give in to intimidation. So, on it goes. To what end, we don’t yet know. This is getting more dangerous by the day.

  3. What a nice view from Szaron’s and Paulina’s window. It looks like the land gently falls away to an orchard, then falls farther to a river or stream valley with a distant view of a forest across the river. In any case the distant view from the second floor is very nice.

    On the space docket: While I do not know how informative it will be, Nasa has scheduled a one-hour press conference to update the DART asteroid collision results this afternoon at 2:00pm U.S. Eastern time. The announced panel is three high level managers- I do not see any bench scientists or engineers. But they may be there for reference. In any case it is scheduled to be broadcast on NASA Live at url https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive. I hope that they will address where things are on calculating any orbit change induced by the collision and whether the ejected debris is forming a ring around the primary asteroid.

  4. It would be very hard to know what to do about the use of nuclear weapons. Of course, Ukraine is not an ally, and we have no duty to defend them, especially with nuclear weapons. Although the use of nuclear weapons by Putin would be an outrage, I think it would be a mistake for us to retaliate in kind. We would either have to do it against Russian occupied Ukraine (who would we be helping) or against targets in Russia, and I don’t think we could do that and pretend we aren’t at war. Certainly, Putin would consider us to be at war.

    1. Nukes are mainly useful as a threat, not when actually used. I think Petraeus proposed several actions, such as the destruction of Russian troops within Ukraine, a no fly zone (which would entail attacks on Russian territory, basically a nono), destroying the Black sea fleet, a crippling cyber attack on Russian command and control centres, and the like (I think HIJENKS -High-Powered Joint Electromagnetic Non-Kinetic Strike Weapon- is about operational).
      One thing NATO will not do in response to Russia’s use of tactical nukes is responding with tactical nukes. That is a sure way to escalation. Everybody wants to avoid the use of ‘strategic nukes’, I scheme even Putin and ‘the hardliners’ do, ut as aid before I’ve been mistaken more than once in this war.

      As an aside, I think Putin’s greatest mistake was, when his SMO, an attempted coup intended to install a Yanukovich-type of puppet regime in Ukraine, failed, he only withdrew from the North. He should have withdrawn to the 2014 borders. He would have taken the ‘black eye’ like a man, and nothing substantial might have changed. But no, by persevering he escalated it to a full blown war, for which his army was totally unprepared. But the 2014 borders are a bird that has flown, Ukraine will accept nothing less than the 1991 borders now, which btw, were guaranteed by -among others- Russia in 1994, in exchange for Ukraine giving up its nukes.

  5. The strike on the bridge to Crimea does seem to be a mixed blessing to me.
    On the one hand it was a highly strategic target since Crimea was an important staging area for the Russian military. On the other hand, the Russian missile strikes in response was predictable and one should not be surprised that civilians were targeted. I think the attack on the bridge also plays favorably to the Russian public. The annexation of Crimea was very popular over there, and the attack on the bridge helps do the opposite of quelling a taste for this war in Russia.

    1. At this point, Ukraine is worried less about popular opinion in Russia and more about kicking the invaders out of their country.

      They know what they are up against…a morally bankrupt and vicious Russian leadership and a cowed, misinformed, and manipulated Russian people. So there is no way to win any public relations war within Russia.

      However, they also know that Russia is exhibiting high levels of incompetence on the battlefield and can be beaten. If Russia were a boxer right now, she’d be sitting on the canvas, dazed after a knockdown and trying to gather her wits. So now is the time to press the advantage and hopefully deliver enough blows to mortally wound this deranged and addled Russian bear.

      If this pushes this increasingly desperate and unstable Putin to use nuclear weapons, then we’ll cross that bridge when we come to it….

      1. Alas! At that point there are unlikely to be any bridges left to cross. I predict–ancient sage that I am–that Putin will not use nuclear weapons unless first used against him. The same is true for Kim. Both know that a first use would mean total annihilation of both their countries.

    2. I don’t think it’s so evident that the attack on the bridge has increased support in Russia for the war. The attack on the bridge is much more devastating to Russia’s military goals than the missile attacks are to Ukraine’s military goals.

      The missile attacks are a terror tactic that have little to no impact on Ukraine’s military capabilities. They may kill a relatively small number of people and all that will do is piss the Ukrainian’s off and make them more determined.

      Meanwhile, taking out that bridge has a severe impact on Russia’s military capabilities. It severely limits the rate at which they can move troops and materials into or out of the affected. Area.

      Ukraine is defending their country from being taken by force and they are determined and capable. They are also kicking Russia’s ass. I don’t think anyone should be telling them that they should stop being so aggressive and effective at pushing an invader out of their country. Especially when they are effectively destroying the reputation and capabilities of one of the current top menaces to the rest of the planet. We should be supporting them, as we have been, and should continue to do so.

  6. The United States has been in armed stand-off with Russia/USSR since the two armies met at the Elbe River in Berlin in 1945. The circumstances under which the United States would directly attack Russian soil or the Russian military anywhere have not changed since then: essentially an existential threat to the Republic. Therefore, if Russia uses nuclear weapons in Ukraine, the American response will be to do nothing, except continue to provide materiel assistance to Ukraine as long as the Ukrainians are willing to fight. I’m sure the Biden administration was fully aware that the Russians might resort to nuclear weapons even if they were winning (to punish Ukraine, say, or to close the police action more efficiently.). I’m sure the President said, “Now look, we’re all agreed, right? There is no, I repeat No, circumstance under which I will directly attack Russian forces, except under NATO’s Article 5. Everybody got that?”

    A Russian declaration of war would not only put American naval assets at risk on the high seas, but also give Russian submarines the right to sink civilian ships attempting to carry trade with the United States and possibly Europe. This would destroy the global economy just from the inability to insure cargo vessels.

    1. You may be right. If the U.S. and NATO do nothing, the west still has the moral high ground. China and other supporters of Russia will remove their support, and Russia will become even more isolated. That said, *not* doing anything will allow the war to continue indefinitely. And, an unanswered tactical nuclear strike might encourage Russia to go even further. So, not doing anything might just be kicking the can down the road. But, even kicking the can down the road does buy time, which might be a better option in this case.

      I like the way you describe a Biden conversation with his advisors. We can all be certain that people in the Pentagon are running scenarios all day every day to try to fashion the correct response. Thank goodness for the “deep state.”

    2. I do not disagree with your first paragraph and Winston Churchill I believe was probably correct in stating that the Allies of WWII should have not stopped at Berlin but after six years of war there was no appetite for more conflict.
      With regard to Russian activity on and beneath the oceans the technology for detecting and destroying Soviet / Russian submarines was exceedingly good during the Cold War and I speak from personal experience. It has improved exponentially since then and destroying merchant or Military Naval assets would not be a repeat of the German activity during the battle for the North Atlantic in WWII this notwithstanding the increased size of the global commercial trading fleet. Many Russian naval assets particularly submarines would be eliminated quite quickly and there is limited potential for replacement.
      NATO is formidable particularly with respect to the United States capability.
      Let us hope that this scenario does not unfold as escalation to the unspeakable could easily occur.
      Having lived and served in the Military (UK) during the cold war and at its decline thought that I would not again in my lifetime fear the possibility of MAD, sadly, this now seems possible and I fear it more so now probably because of increased age, the loss of youthful invincibility and a very dangerous person in the Kremlin.
      I am sitting writing this in my peaceful conservatory with our six cats sunning themselves and watching the leaves change to spectacular autumnal shades and I selfishly would like to do this for many more years to come.

  7. Germany has delivered an “IRIS-T Surface Launched Medium Range” air defense system to the Ukraine

    The ground-based air defense system is primarily intended to protect the civilian population by repelling air attacks by the Russian army. According to Chancellor Scholz, it could also be used to protect major cities from air attacks.
    Three more Iris-T systems are to be delivered to the Ukrainian war zone next year. Exactly when is still open; the anti-aircraft weapons have yet to be manufactured.


  8. I’m far from convinced the attack on the Kerch bridge was a Ukrainian operation, could be, but I’m really not convinced (apart from Ukraine not claiming it, but they rarely do).
    There are large segments within the Russian armed forces that are opposed to Putin’s war, they might have done it with the aim to embarrass Putin, and ending the war they are losing.
    It might even have been a false flag operation concocted by Putin himself, trying to get support for further escalation. I would not put that beyond Putin.
    We simply don’t know (von Clausewitz’s “Fog of War”).
    One thing is sure though, the explosions came from below (all my engineer friends appear to concur) and it definitely was not the alleged ‘truck bomb’.

  9. One of my favorite Tito Puente tunes is a great version of Brubeck’s Take Five in *eight* (or four, if you like, but four might as well be eight, and both are definitely not five). The arrangement takes out the very thing that made Take Five famous, a bit of an anti-arrangement, maybe. And, being in four or eight makes it fit Latin music MUCH easier.

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