Month: August 2022
Russia Tries To Steal A Nuclear Power Plant
For the past couple of weeks, we have been hearing about military activity around the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant (ZNPP). Of course, the Russian occupation and stationing of military vehicles within the plant is dangerous. Unfortunately, both Russia and Ukraine are motivated to exaggerate the plant’s dangers. For Ukraine, reporting a desperate situation at the plant may motivate its western supporters to increase their support. For Russia, it is a way to rattle nukes without referring to nuclear weapons. Both take advantage of exaggerated fears about nuclear issues.
Add to that Russian threats against the Ukrainian operators, which make it impossible to get reliable reports of the status of the plant from the people who know. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the international oversight agency for nuclear plants, wants to be able to inspect the plant, but Russia has refused to allow them in.
ZNPP is the largest nuclear power plant in Europe, with six VVER (Soviet design) nuclear reactors. Russia took the plant early in its war against Ukraine, probably as part of its attempt at a quick takeover of the country and installation of a puppet regime. They also seized hydroelectric plants and shelled another nuclear plant at Rivne. It makes sense to secure the power plants in regime change.Read More
There’s been a flurry of news this past week about Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Power Plant.
It’s impossible to tell what is going on. Both Ukraine and Russia have raised alarms of various kinds since Russia occupied the plant, and most have not played out. It’s to both sides’ advantage to overplay the dangers.
That said, there are real dangers. I’ve written about them. This article is a good summary. And given Russia’s actions over the past six months, it’s hard to rule out any possibility, although so far their actions have been far less than their warnings.
My feeling about the current uproar is that it’s a Russian propaganda operation to distract from Ukraine’s ability to strike inside Crimea. That bodes ill for Russia – it opens another front while Ukraine is working on Kherson, and the uncertainty of how much Ukraine can do in Crimea has got to be stunning. Reports are that Russia has moved planes and helicopters back from the attacks, some of them to Russia.
So I’m not going to analyze (or even present) some of the tweets and claims that are out there. There’s too much, and it probably won’t all play out. If you want to share stuff in the comments, I’ll try to respond.
Cross-posted to Lawyers, Guns & Money
US Diplomacy In The Lead-Up To Russia’s War On Ukraine
In its excellent article on the lead-up to the war, the Washington Post describes some of the diplomatic contacts in the attempt to avert the war. The bottom line is that Russia wasn’t having any.
June 16, 2021: Biden meets with Putin. No indication that Putin plans a war, but two weeks later, his screed on Ukraine’s rightful place in the Russian Empire is released.
End of October: Biden meets leaders of Britain, France, and Germany at the side of the G20 meeting.
November 2: CIA Director William Burns meets with Putin, Yuri Ushakov, and Nikolai Patrushev (Putin advisors).
There seemed to be no room for meaningful engagement, and it left the CIA director to wonder if Putin and his tight circle of aides had formed their own echo chamber. Putin had not made an irreversible decision to go to war, but his views on Ukraine had hardened, his appetite for risk had grown, and the Russian leader believed his moment of opportunity would soon pass.
Trump Had Classified Nuclear Documents
We know next to nothing from the Washington Post report.
Classified documents relating to nuclear weapons were among the items FBI agents sought in a search of former president Donald Trump’s Florida residence on Monday, according to people familiar with the investigation.
The people who described some of the material that agents were seeking spoke on the condition of anonymity to discuss an ongoing investigation. They did not offer additional details about what type of information the agents were seeking, including whether it involved weapons belonging to the United States or some other nation. Nor did they say if such documents were recovered as part of the search. A Trump spokesman did not respond to a request for comment. The Justice Department and FBI declined to comment.
We do not know what kind of classified, what level of classified, or what those documents say about nuclear weapons – whether it is design information, where they are located, or even if they are about US nuclear weapons.Read More
Russia Continues To Put The Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant At Risk
The Russians are…shelling the Zaporizhzhia Nuclear Plant?
This does not make sense, but neither do any of Russia’s actions toward the plant. They took the plant by shelling it and caused a fire that destroyed one of the administrative buildings. They are rumored to have mined the plant. The Ukrainian operators are effectively prisoners. The Russians regularly shell the nearby city where the operators’ families live.
There are a couple of possibilities, not mutually exclusive, for why the Russians took the plant. First, it would be consistent with a plan to grab all of Ukraine and install a puppet government, which seems to have been the initial Russian intent. Having control of power plants would be a good thing. The Russians seized Zaporizhzhia early, along with a couple of hydroelectric power plants. Second, it is a relatively safe military base because the Ukrainians have the good sense not to shell a nuclear plant. The district in which it is located, Zaporizhzhia, is one of the ones that Russia has said it plans to incorporate as it did Donetsk and Luhansk.Read More
Rainer HachfeldRead More
Will Russia Break Up?
One speculation on the outcome of Russia’s war against Ukraine is that Russia will break up. Russia remains an empire, conquered over centuries. The breakup of the Soviet Union allowed 14 of its colonies to become independent. Those colonies had been given the status of Republics of the Soviet Union. Russia today contains several types of internal groupings: 46 oblasts, 21 republics, 9 krays, 4 autonomous okrugs, 2 cities of federal significance and 1 autonomous oblasts.
Many of these are ethnically distinct. All are supposed to be treated equally, but they are unequal in size and importance to Moscow. Many of the differences go back to how the groups were incorporated into the Russian Empire.
In addition to the union republics, most of these groups existed at the time the Soviet Union but did not seek independence, partly because their governmental organization was not strong enough to stand independently. All of the union republics had legislative bodies (supreme soviets) and an executive, some stronger and more prepared for independence than others.Read More