Posts tagged with "War"

They flooded their own village and kept the Russians at bay

April 28, 2022

They pull up soggy linoleum from their floors, and fish potatoes and jars of pickles from submerged cellars. They hang out waterlogged rugs to dry in the pale spring sunshine. All around Demydiv—a village north of Ukriane’s capital, Kyiv,—residents have been grappling with the aftermath of a severe flood, which under ordinary circumstances would have been yet another misfortune for a people under attack. This time, it was quite the opposite, reports The New York Times.

In fact, it was a tactical victory in the war against Russia. The Ukrainians flooded the village intentionally, along with a vast expanse of fields and bogs around it, creating a quagmire that thwarted a Russian tank assault on Kyiv and bought the army precious time to prepare defenses.

The residents of Demydiv paid the price in the rivers of dank green floodwater that engulfed many of their homes. And they couldn’t be more pleased.

“Everybody understands and nobody regrets it for a moment,” said Antonina Kostuchenko, a retiree, whose living room is now a musty space with waterlines a foot or so up the walls. “We saved Kyiv!” she said with pride.

What happened in Demydiv was not an outlier. Since the war’s early days, Ukraine has been swift and effective in wreaking havoc on its own territory, often by destroying infrastructure, as a way to foil a Russian army with superior numbers and weaponry.

Demydiv was flooded when troops opened a nearby dam and sent water surging into the countryside. Elsewhere in Ukraine, the military has, without hesitation, blown up bridges, bombed roads, and disabled rail lines and airports. The goal has been to slow Russian advances, channel enemy troops into traps, and force tank columns onto less favorable terrain.

So far, more than 300 bridges have been destroyed across Ukraine, the country’s Minister of Infrastructure Oleksandr Kubrakov, said. When the Russians tried to take a key airport outside Kyiv on the first day of the invasion, Ukrainian forces shelled the runway, leaving them pockmarked with craters and unable to receive planeloads of Russian special forces.

The scorched-earth policy has played an important role in Ukraine’s success in holding off Russian forces in the north and preventing them from capturing Kyiv, the capital, military experts said.

Research contact: @nytimes

Pelosi: White House did not warn me about retaliatory strike against Iran

June 24, 2019

Not only did President Donald Trump not seek ratification from Congress for a military strike on Iran on June 21—but House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-California) said on Friday that she had not even been informed of the administration’s plans for retaliation against the Islamic Republic.

The White House cancelled its plans ten minutes before the action, with planes already in the air. The president explained that he had halted the military action because it would have resulted in a “disproportionate” number of Iranian casualties after no Americans were killed in that nation’s strike on a U.S. drone on June 20.

Just a couple of days earlier, the House had voted to repeal the 2001 Authorization for Use of Military Force—however, the bill had not yet received approval from the Senate, so the president was not clearly obligated to ask for Congressional ratification.

However, Politico reported, Pelosi is second in line to the presidency, and as a formal courtesy, would traditionally have been informed of the contemplated action.

Indeed, the news outlet noted, conventionally, House and Senate leadership, and chair and ranking members on the national security-related and other key committees are told about an imminent U.S. military action.

Some effort was made to keep them in the loop: Senior lawmakers were briefed at the White House about how the United States planned to respond to the drone incident on Thursday afternoon, but no set plans were made at that time.

In a formal statement Friday, Pelosi warned, “We are in an extremely dangerous and sensitive situation with Iran.  We must calibrate a response that de-escalates and advances American interests, and we must be clear as to what those interests are.

“During our meeting with the President at the White House,” she added, “Congressional Leaders stressed the necessity that we work with our allies and not strengthen the hand of Iran’s hardliners. Democratic Leaders emphasized that hostilities must not be initiated without the approval of Congress.

She noted, “We have no illusions about the dangerous conduct of the Iranian regime.  This is a dangerous, high-tension situation that requires a strong, smart, and strategic approach.”

Research contact: @SpeakerPelosi

Putin praises Trump’s precipitous decision to extract U.S. troops from Syria

December 21, 2018

“Dah.” Russian President Vladimir Putin certainly is no “yes-man,” so President Trump had to be pleased when news emerged from the Kremlin this week that he approved of the U.S. leader’s decision to “immediately” withdraw troops from Syria.

Trump made the unanticipated announcement on Twitter on December 19: “We have defeated ISIS in Syria, my only reason for being there during the Trump Presidency.”

Neither the U.S. Department of Defense nor the Senate’s Armed Services Committee knew of the decision—nor had the State Department, the National Security Council, the nation’s allies, or even the White House Press Office been informed of the move.

According to a report by The Washington Post, Putin told journalists at his annual year-end news conference that the Islamic State had suffered “serious blows” in Syria.

“On this, Donald is right. I agree with him,” Putin said. 

But Putin, along with President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan of Turkey and Ayatollah Seyyed Ali Khamenei Iran, may be among the few who support the move.

The Post reports that analysts say the militant group remains a deadly force. Russia —which remains Syrian President Bashar al-Assad’s most powerful ally—turned the tide of the civil war in Assad’s favor in 2015 and has maintained its military presence there.

The United States and many of its allies denounced Russia’s military intervention in Syria. But Trump’s withdrawal is viewed by many —including some Republican Trump backers — as an indirect boost for Moscow and its status as the main foreign power in Syria.

Putin said the U.S. troop deployment to Syria had been illegitimate because neither Assad’s government nor the United Nations had approved the U.S. mission.

“If the United States decided to withdraw its force, then this would be right,” Putin said.

Russia has been negotiating a political settlement to the civil war in Syria with Assad, neighboring Turkey, and Russia’s ally Iran. The presence of U.S. troops was not helpful for achieving such a settlement, Putin said.

Putin, however, said nothing about the future of Russia’s extensive military presence in Syria, which includes a Mediterranean port used by Russian warships, according to the Post.

Research contact: anton.troianovski@washpost.com