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The spin about the 438 deserted Ukrainian troops

Lots of dramatic and worrisome events keep on taking place in Ukraine.

A million of users saw the monologue by Bogdan Butkevich, a pro-Kiev journalist and a self-described musician, who said (months ago) that people like him knew what the Ukrainian national interests were and 1.5 million people in the Donetsk region (probably referring to all the ethnic Russians) were "useless people" who needed to be killed. "Gentlemen" like this one define the contemporary political mainstream in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, four days ago, the Donetsk People's Republic's minister of defense, Igor Strelkov, who would be a keen battle reenactor before his real-world military career, said that Kiev plans a giant false-flag operation of exterminating much of Donetsk and Luhansk by bombing 160 and 120 tons of chlorine in the local water chlorinations facilities. Depending on the wind, the clouds would kill more or less than tens of thousands of people. The Auschwitz-like operation would be attributed to the local militias, Strelkov argued. I hope that these are just fantasies but if they're not and someone is seriously planning things like that, it is horrifying.

Meanwhile, an amusing story took place today – and surprisingly, it was even covered by numerous Western media such as ABC, CBS, Business Week, the Seattle Times, and others.

What actually happened seems rather crystal clear. Over 400 troops sent by Kiev realized that it's silly to risk their lives for (diplomatically saying) questionable political goals and slogans (such as the orders to fight their own people) and for a lousy salary – and it's questionable whether they're being paid any salary right now at all. 164 of them were border guards.

So they destroyed all their weapons, the Kiev government assets, in order to make sure that they no longer look like enemies, simply crossed the border and applied for asylum in Russia. Russia agreed – and opened a humanitarian corridor for similarly existentially threatened men to escape the risks, too. Strelkov claims that Kiev has lost 12,000+ troops in the last three months – 7,000+ killed (including 2,500 Right Sector Nazis, 139 Poles, 169 Americans), 5,000+ deserted, 14 captured. Approximately. Not a safe job. Wars are not too safe, you know. It's at least a bit fair that people ordered to kill others aren't safe themselves.

We had no food, generals betrayed us, and so on. The human life is obviously not worth much according to the current Kiev rulers.

You don't really need a PhD to see that Ukraine has been turned into a failed state of a sort so it's natural that state employees desert and emigrate to a safer place, especially if some of the people aren't even feeling to be members of the "privileged ethnic group" in the current nationalistically loaded regime. I would be doing the same thing.

But look how this story is covered by a Ukrainian pro-government server that simply announces what the Kiev rulers have to say. I had to laugh. The citizens are told that it was a clever operation in which the troops were under fire for four hours. So two parts of the troops have made some tactical decision to cover each other or something like that, and then they heroically entered Russia through a checkpoint.

Instead of admitting that some parts of the army got dissolved, much like many other important things are dissolving and collapsing in the contemporary Ukraine, and that some troops simply deserted for totally understandable reasons (they're already fed up by their job, at least in these conditions), they prefer a heroic fairy-tale which effectively implies that 438 Ukrainian troops hostile towards Russia have invaded the territory of Russia (although without weapons)!

The expected recipients of this story have to be incredibly stupid. You know, many or most Czechs are rather ordinary people but if someone in our government provided us with this comical presentation of the government's new successes, he would surely become a target of an infinite number of jokes. It would be the case with the communist government's stories about some emigrants – after some waves of laughter, the communists got more careful and truly ludicrous explanations were no longer offered in similar situations. But the 438 heroes in the Ukrainian army who entered Russia – it's probably something that the champions of the current de facto government in Kiev apparently find trustworthy enough.

Some Ukrainian sources have made the "story about the 438 heroes" even better. The soldiers were not just under fire. They were under fire from two directions – from the local militias and from the Russian territory. So to escape this fire, they went to... Russia! That's pretty cute. Usually if you're being shot at by bullets flying by velocity \(\vec v\), including the direction (direction from Russia to Ukraine), you typically want to run "away from the bullet", i.e. run with the velocity of the same direction (and sign) as \(\vec v\) (i.e. away from Russia to the Ukrainian mainland). But according to the currently official Ukrainian laws of physics, the right way to save your life is to run towards these bullets. ;-)

Of course that many of the people don't really believe what they say. It's just that the polarized political atmosphere such as this one create millions of "mini-pundits", people who know that the official explanations of their side are often ludicrous but who spread this nonsense for "greater political goals". Even though the recipients – and often skeptical ones etc. – of this propaganda is just their nephew and their grandmother, they feel very important for fighting the war, at least at the level of propaganda. Because lots of people are invested in this way, totally preposterous explanations such as the Kiev explanation of the deserters may often survive and be repeated.

Dozens and perhaps 180 of the 438 troops (were made?) decided to return to Ukraine. I am afraid it wasn't a smart career move because while their collective decision to cross the border had simply been rational, it may be classified as treason in the tense war-like atmosphere in Ukraine.

Meanwhile, Barack Obama was said to have said that as a nation, Russia doesn't make anything. Is there an audio of this fascinating quote? Russia is in no way the #1 (except for diamonds and other things) or #2 (except for natural gas, weapons and other things) or #3 (except for oil) economy in the world but it still makes at least 10 times more than e.g. Barack Obama and his 200 million closest relatives from the paternal side. I am sure that this comparison isn't sufficiently politically correct in the U.S. where it's only kosher to spit – even in this retarded oversimplified way – on nations like Russia but never on nations that are said to be "discriminated against" but are actually treated as the most spoiled brats in the world.

At the same moment, Putin has already ordered the Czech drone motors to be replaced by domestic ones. Great. If I were a manager of the Czech machine company, I would be already looking for ways how to sell the motors to Russia e.g. through Switzerland that won't blindly copy the EU sanctions, according to its finance minister.

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snail feedback (19) :

reader newbie said...

Your blog is AMAZING, especially concerning the Ukraine issue (and physics, of course)--the "western media" is a total joke on this topic-egging for WWIII?

Meanwhile the insane president says Russian "doesn't make anything".

reader Luboš Motl said...

Wow, I couldn't believe that! What a catch. Added a comment in the last paragraph.

Thanks for your kind words, too.

reader Uncle Al said...

"Auschwitz-like operation" Ypres, Belgium 1700 hrs local, 22 April 1915. How can one not love the German pro-active innovative stance?

President Barack Obama, Roanoke, VA, 13 July 2012: "If you’ve got a business. you didn’t build that. Somebody else made it happen." Baby Boomers did not earn their lives, government gave it to them. Now it is time for government to give everything to the lame, halt, dim-witted, addicted, perverse, diverse, deserving, proven unable...and most of all, to their keepers.

reader Gene Day said...

The first casualty of war is the truth.

reader bob sykes said...

I doubt very much that the local water treatment plant has anything like 160 tons of chlorine on hand.

The amount of chlorine used in water treatment is quite small, generally on the order of a few mg/L, or a few g/m^3. Most plant using gaseous chlorine (nowadays few in number) only keep about 30 days supply on hand.

Average water consumption in American cities (which tends to be large) is less than 0.4 m^3/day/cap, so 1,000,000 people use 400,000 m^3/day of water and need about 1000 kg/day chlorine. 160 tons would represent at least a half year of chlorine consumption.

That said, chlorine was the first poison gas used in WW I because it is denser than air and settles down into trenches. It severely damages all the sinus, bronchial and lung tissues, and generally leaves it victims open to various lung infections.

Most WW I casualties were due to gas.

reader cynholt said...

The illegitimate, coup d'etat government in Kiev was hand picked by Nuland and the State Department. They are deliberately trying to provoke Russia. Russia is mobilizing forces (for real this time) on the Ukraine border as we have reports of private mercenaries and neo-fascist Kiev troops being sent to the border regions of eastern Ukraine.

Obama has been shamed and humiliated several times by Putin. The lies about Assad's use of chemical weapons was exposed. The puppet emperor had to back down from bombing Syria, and Russia accepted Snowden's asylum request and is still in Russia.

As Robert Parry, Paul Craig Roberts, Pepe Escobar, Ray McGovern, and others have pointed out: these war criminals are making the world a very dangerous place (Russia is a nuclear power and is being pushed into a corner. A cornered angry Bear may have few options when its existence is threatened.)

Biden was pimping BigOil/Gas fracking in Ukraine recently, and the resource grab is underway. Zbiggy "Grand Chessboard" Brzezhinski and the gang at the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) want Russia surrounded and destroyed. US anti-ballistic missile (ABM) bases are in Poland already and they want more in the new Baltic NATO countries. They want Ukraine in NATO and ABM bases placed there as well. The Russians read Zbiggy and they know this.

These psychopaths are flirting with provoking WWIII. Of course they don't believe that is a real possibility, but their ignorance, arrogance and hubris prevent them from recognizing the laws of unintended consequences. Zbiggy and the gang must be delighted, their high-stakes chess game is on, but Russians play chess very well indeed. Too bad this ain't really just a “let's pretend” game in a cardboard box.

reader Fred said...

How does this spin compare to the spin of an electron?

reader BMWA1 said...


reader Eric said...

Interesting comment on Obama's family. Is Putin's family making oil or gas? And from what?

reader Nyuszi Weinrauch said...

Lubosh!You're pretty right!Those Ukrainian soldiers thought that they went to war against the enemy.In deed they came to kill the local population in the Eastern Ukraine--not the powerful Russian Army because it isn't there!They understood the lie of Poroshenko & his team.They have always known that Russia isn't their enemy,so they decided to do this!Their first enemies are the Ukrainian government which make biorobots of Ukrainian people all over the country and sent their youth to die for nothing!

reader Gene Day said...

Politicians need to be careful about what they say and Obama was not careful. Clearly he was thinking about consumer products, of which we see very few on our store shelves. Even our Stolichnaya Vodka is made in Latvia.

I am more concerned that he even mentioned the possibility of nuclear weapons re-emerging as a consideration in the US vs. Russia “contest" over the Ukraine. This can only inflame the leftover emotions that many Americans have from the Soviet era. The situation is bad enough but our President is making it worse.

I am reconsidering my statements in defense of his intelligence.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Right. The troops have to feel very similar to Russian and Ukrainian- and other - troops who came to Czechoslovakia in 1968 and who were also told that they would be facing an evil enemy organizing a counterrevolution from the West. Of course, they only met a legitimate peaceful public that was culturally more advanced than theirs and that was at most making jokes.

reader Luboš Motl said...

Dear Eric, you think that you're being analogous but you're not. Putin hasn't said that America doesn't make anything.

Otherwise, concerning your question, the geological answer is No. Sorry if I am the first one to tell you but the fossil fuel reserves were created millions and millions years ago when organic material was squeezed by a huge pressure.

From an economic perspective, the answer to your question is Yes. In the economics speak, those companies are producing oil and gas, and because most of them are at least mostly state-owned and Putin is at the top of this hierarchy, yes, Putin is producing the oil and gas.

reader Luboš Motl said...

I said it's the same spin. Spin in general is what is conserved as long as the laws of physics are rotationally symmetric.

It's also conserved here - people will always be spinning things as long as the Earth is spinning.

reader Fred said...

But does right wing spin spin in the opposite direction to left wing spin and would they cancel if they were to interact. (ok that's enough ;-))

reader Eric said...

OK. But the slur about Obama's half-kenyan origins is not worthy of you.
Kenya lost one or two 9/11 for independence from the British.... And the were plundered both by the Brits and the Germans. So it is iffy to attack the achievements of Obama's father's side. And not needed for the point you are making.

Thanks for your time and the reply, anyway.

reader Gene Day said...

That is interesting, Lubos. More than 400,000 immigrants in one year is more than I would have expected.
Regarding Russian ability to make things, Hitler certainly learned about that capability. With a late start and with much of the Soviet production capacity lost early in the war, the Soviets (Russians really) produced more weaponry than did Germany. Yes, they can make things.

reader Tom said...

Excellent point, Gene. The fact that workers at the Dzerzhinsky works in Stalingrad continued building tanks (the T34, best design of the war) while their compatriots were fighting the Wehrmacht at the factory’s other end says something pretty deep about their abilities.

reader palaso said...

Another russian propaganda...
I was laughing especialy when I read "7,000+ killed (including 2,500 Right Sector Nazis, 139 Poles, 169 Americans)" :)
Thanks Lubos for funny post. Nice break from physics ;)