St. Javelin Bless Ukraine

by wjw on March 6, 2022

St. Javelin by Inkstick Media, via Florin Corneliu Pitea

The heroic resistance of Ukraine has inspired volunteers from all over— most impressively American veterans, who are carrying their weapons and skills over the water to join what Zelensky is calling his “international legion.” Since over the last twenty years the U.S. military has become the most efficient, competent, and dangerous fighting force in all history, this is nothing to sneeze at— although there’s a chance that the war will stagger to a bloody end before any of these volunteers can make a difference.

Plenty of volunteers are charging into combat without even leaving their comfy office chairs. A swarm of volunteer hackers have leaped into action, munching Pringles while taking down Russia’s largest stock market, a state-controlled bank, and the foreign ministry. And it is either a good point or a troubling one that nobody knows who these guys are.

“It is crazy, it is bonkers, it is unprecedented,” said Matt Olney, the director of threat intelligence at the security firm Cisco Talos. “This is not going to be solely a conflict among nations. There are going to be participants that are not under the strict control of any government.”

The online battles have blurred the lines between state-backed hackers and patriotic amateurs, making it difficult for governments to understand who is attacking them and how to retaliate. But both Ukraine and Russia appear to have embraced tech-savvy volunteers, creating channels on the chat app Telegram to direct them to target specific websites.

The problem with Anonymous being anonymous is that their mischief could be mistaken for a state-sponsored attack, provoking a serious retaliation.

But the Ukrainians are happy to establish another international brigade, this of electron warriors.

“We are creating an I.T. army,” Ukraine’s minister of digital transformation, Mykhailo Fedorov, tweeted on Saturday, directing cybersecurity enthusiasts to a Telegram channel that contained instructions for knocking Russian websites offline. “There will be tasks for everyone.” By Friday, the Telegram channel had more than 285,000 subscribers.

Inside the main English-language Telegram page for the I.T. Army of Ukraine is a 14-page introductory document providing details about how people can participate, including what software to download to mask their whereabouts and identity. Every day, new targets are listed, including websites, telecommunications firms, banks and A.T.M. processors.

Yegor Aushev, the co-founder of the Ukrainian cybersecurity company Cyber Unit Technologies, said he was flooded with notes after posting on social media a call for programmers to get involved. His company offered a $100,000 reward for those who identify flaws in the code of Russian cyber targets.

Now the Russians might offer rewards, too, but their money is shit.

In the meantime, the Russian state-owned news agency RIA-Novostny posted an announcement of victory on its web page, praising Russia for “restoring its historical fullness, gathering the Russian world, the Russian people together”.

There is a great deal of obsequious flattery directed at Putin:

“Vladimir Putin has assumed, without a drop of exaggeration, a historic responsibility by deciding not to leave the solution of the Ukrainian question to future generations,” the article says.

It concludes by claiming that the military action “is Russia’s return of its historical space and its place in the world”, which has put the Anglo-Saxons of Europe and the US in their place.

The article was posted on Saturday, February 26, apparently under the assumption that victory would by then be achieved. It didn’t stay up for long, but it’s still available in archival form, for those of you who read Russian.

John Appel March 6, 2022 at 12:26 pm

When I see pictures of the massive convoys stuck on the barely-two-lane roads through muddy (and since Friday/Saturday, inundated territory) and immediately thought of XXX Corps slogging up Hell’s Highway towards Nijmegen and Arnhem. Did you have flashbacks of your father relating his experiences?

The Russian losses Oryx is documenting are staggering, particularly the number of captured armored vehicles.

John F. MacMichael March 8, 2022 at 4:37 am

St. Javelin, St. NLAW, St. Stinger, pray for us!

Cowboy March 22, 2022 at 4:12 pm

I’ve always admired you as one of the best and most intelligent writers in the field of SF. For someone who wrote Hardwire and Voice of the Whirlwind, Aristoi…I’m surprised that you don’t have a more nuanced view of this conflict. Before picking sides, I’d recommend watching Professor John Mearsheimer’s lecture on the root causes of this conflict:

wjw March 24, 2022 at 12:28 am

Ukraine is not a country inhabited by angels, but on the other hand Ukraine doesn’t deserve an invasion, either. It doesn’t deserve having its cities bombed to rubble, or millions of its citizens turned into refugees, or its schools and hospitals targeted by bombs and artillery.

JOIN MY SLAVIC PARADISE OR I’LL RUN YOU OVER WITH MY TANKS. If there actually were a Slavic paradise, it would be flooded by immigrants, and wouldn’t have to resort to conquest.

On one side, you have a president elected by 75% of the vote. On the other, an autocrat so terrified of people that he won’t let anyone within ten meters of him. (Apparently people were too scared of him to tell him his army and air force were shit.)

This is the largest European conflict since the Second World War. Who thought this was a good idea?

Putin has blamed his failures on “fifth columnists and traitors,” who of course will be dealt with sternly. “I am convinced that such natural and necessary self-purification of our society will only strengthen our country.” (Speech on March 16)

So Russia will be improved if he only arrests enough Russians! Starting with the guy who ran against him in the last election, apparently.

Putin’s banned independent news, Facebook, and other media platforms. Anyone who contradicts the official line is subject to 15 years’ imprisonment. Who wouldn’t want to join this paradise?

Ukraine was in many ways an unholy mess, but the invasion has succeeded in uniting the whole country, plus re-energizing NATO and all the countries on Russia’s border.

This is a horrific tragedy, and not just for Ukraine. The average Russian is in for a decade or more of misery.

Yet I’m sure Putin will fight on to the last Russian. It’s all he knows how to do.

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