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Tropical Storm Nicole causes U.S. flight cancellations

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2022-11-10T22:48:42Z A view of the Daytona Beach Main Street Pier ahead of the expected arrival of Hurricane Nicole, in Daytona Beach, Florida, U.S., November 9, 2022. REUTERS/Marco Bello Airlines in the United States canceled more than 1,350 flights on Thursday as Tropical Storm Nicole made landfall on the east coast of Florida, forcing airports in […]

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Ukraine says Russians will take at least a week to leave Kherson city

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2022-11-10T22:03:00Z Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy said on Monday (November 7) that Donetsk region in the east remained the “epicentre” of fighting in the conflict, with hundreds of Russians being killed every day. Ukrainian troops pushed towards the southern strategic river port of Kherson after Moscow ordered one of the war’s biggest retreats, although officials fear […]

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DeSantis emerges as the Trump alternative after Florida landslide – Tampa Bay Times

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DeSantis emerges as the Trump alternative after Florida landslide  Tampa Bay Times

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In Major Retreat, Russia Orders Withdrawal From Ukrainian City of Kherson

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By Tom Balmforth and Jonathan Landay

KYIV/NOVOOLEXANDRIVKA, Ukraine (Reuters)—Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu on Wednesday ordered his troops to withdraw from the west bank of the Dnipro River in the face of Ukrainian attacks near the southern city of Kherson, a significant retreat and potential turning point in the war.

Ukraine reacted with caution to the announcement, saying some Russian forces were still in Kherson.

“Until the Ukrainian flag is flying over Kherson, it makes no sense to talk about a Russian withdrawal,” Mykhailo Podolyak, a senior adviser to Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, said in a statement to Reuters.

Kherson city was the only regional capital Russia had captured since its invasion in February and the abandonment of such a strategic prize would be a major setback for what Moscow terms its “special military operation” in Ukraine.

In televised comments, General Sergei Surovikin, in overall command of the war, reported to Shoigu that it was no longer possible to supply Kherson city. He said he proposed to take up defensive lines on the eastern bank of the Dnipro River.

Shoigu told Surovikin: “I agree with your conclusions and proposals. For us, the life and health of Russian servicemen is always a priority. We must also take into account the threats to the civilian population.

“Proceed with the withdrawal of troops and take all measures to ensure the safe transfer of personnel, weapons and equipment across the Dnipro River.”

The news followed weeks of Ukrainian advances towards the city and a race by Russia to relocate tens of thousands of its residents.

“We will save the lives of our soldiers and fighting capacity of our units. Keeping them on the right (western) bank is futile. Some of them can be used on other fronts,” Surovikin said.


Kherson is the main city of the region of the same name – one of four Ukrainian regions that President Vladimir Putin proclaimed in September he was incorporating into Russia “for ever”, and which the Kremlin said had now been placed under Moscow’s nuclear umbrella.

NATO’s Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg, on a visit to London, welcomed the “encouraging” news from Kherson, and noted the substantial military help the alliance was providing to Kyiv.

“The victories, the gains the Ukrainian armed forces are making belongs to the brave, courageous Ukrainian soldiers but of course the support they receive from the United Kingdom, from NATO allies and partners is also essential,” said Stoltenberg.

Compounding the sense of Russian disarray in Kherson, Moscow’s number two official there, Kirill Stremousov, was killed on Wednesday in what Moscow said was a car crash.

Stremousov was one of the most prominent faces of Russia’s occupation. Ukraine viewed him as a collaborator and a traitor.

In a video statement only hours before his death, Stremousov denounced what he called Ukrainian “Nazis” and said the Russian military was in “full control” of the situation in the south.

However, there has been mounting speculation in recent weeks that Moscow could either withdraw its forces from the west bank of the Dnipro or dig in for a bloody battle.

Earlier on Wednesday, the main bridge on a road out of Kherson city was blown up.

Photos on the internet showed the span of the Darivka bridge on the main highway east out of Kherson completely collapsed into the water of the Inhulets River, a tributary of the Dnipro. Reuters verified the location of the images.

Ukrainians who posted photos of the destroyed bridge speculated that it had been blown up by Russian troops in preparation for a retreat.

Vitaly Kim, the Ukrainian governor of the Mykolaiv region, which borders Kherson, suggested Ukrainian forces had pushed some Russians out.

“Russian troops are complaining that they have already been thrown out of there,” Kim said in a statement on his Telegram channel.


The pullout announcement had been anticipated by Russia’s influential war bloggers, who described it as a bitter blow.

“Apparently we will leave the city, no matter how painful it is to write about it now,” said the War Gonzo blog, which has more than 1.3 million subscribers on Telegram.

“In simple terms, Kherson can’t be held with bare hands,” it said. “Yes, this is a black page in the history of the Russian army. Of the Russian state. A tragic page.”

Further east, in Novoolexandrivka, a village on a hilly bank of the Dnipro in territory recaptured by advancing Ukrainian troops last month, the thunder of near constant rocket and artillery fire echoed on Wednesday from the front 10 km (6 miles) away.

“We’re kicking them off this bank and we will kick them off the other bank,” said Oleh, a Ukrainian soldier.

Since pulling out, the Russians have pounded the area every day, villagers and soldiers said. Around a third of residents, some 230 people, have stayed behind.

“They won’t let me die in peace. I want to be able to die in peace at the end of my life,” complained Mariia Lytvynova, 92, as she leant on a walking stick under a trellised archway hung with vines ripe with red grapes leading to her small home.

“I have already survived one war,” she said, referring to World War II, when the region was occupied by Nazi Germany.

“What will happen with the young people? I am done with my life. But they have to carry on.”

(Additional reporting by Peter Graff, Pavel Polityuk and Reuters bureaux; Writing by Peter Graff and Alex Richardson; Editing by Jon Boyle and Gareth Jones)

The post In Major Retreat, Russia Orders Withdrawal From Ukrainian City of Kherson appeared first on Washington Free Beacon.

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky hopes bipartisan US support for Ukraine won’t end after midterms

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Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky said he was concerned about recent “mixed messages” from Republican lawmakers on aid for Kyiv and told CNN that his top priority was preserving bipartisan support from the United States after the midterm elections, as Russia’s war on his country nears the nine-month mark.

The Ukrainian leader, who has the task of keeping morale high in a grueling conflict marked by strikes on energy infrastructure, relentless civilian deaths and human rights violations, said support from the US “sends a very significant, powerful signal.”

Zelensky and his wife, Olena Zelenska, spoke to CNN’s Chief International Anchor Christiane Amanpour in an exclusive interview Wednesday, a day after the US midterm elections, the outcome of which could shift the steady stream of military aid sent by the Biden administration to Kyiv.

“We are grateful for bipartisan support. We would really like to have this bipartisan support remain after the elections,” Zelensky said. “There have been these mixed messages that were in the US mass media, particularly from the Republican side … that we need to be more careful about supporting Ukraine – and maybe that at a certain point, the support could be reduced. For us this is a very concerning signal.”

07 zelenskys interview

Anton Kulakowskiy

Zelensky’s comments come after a warning in October from Republican House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy that Kyiv could not “expect a blank check” if his party won back control of the House following this week’s vote. But Republican Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell has vowed to continue to aid Ukraine in its war against Russia.

Zelensky said that strong US support was vital to maintaining Western unity with Kyiv as the war grinds into the winter.

“Whenever the United States support us financially, then Europe joins this support as well. And we feel it very strongly, because winning this war over Russian terror is only possible through united support,” he told CNN.

From attending virtual summits to hosting closed-door discussions, Zelensky has tried to keep world leaders engaged with the conflict partly to combat so-called “donor fatigue,” as Western allies weigh up the cost of sending financial aid to Ukraine while handling economic and political pressures at home.

“This word ‘fatigue,’ it’s a big word. You can’t get fatigued,” he said. “It’s too early for all of us to get fatigued … When Russia truly wants peace, we will definitely feel it and see that. But you know, you can’t wish for peace with words alone.”

The Kremlin announced the withdrawal of Russian troops from a swathe of the occupied region of Kherson on Wednesday.

The Ukrainian president spoke to CNN before Russia announced that its troops were preparing a stunning retreat from a large part of occupied Kherson.

That withdrawal would relinquish huge swathes of Ukrainian territory that Moscow has occupied since the early days of the war.

The order is a significant setback for Russian President Vladimir Putin, who in September formally declared Kherson one of four Ukrainian regions that would be illegally annexed by Moscow following a series of referendums dismissed as “a sham” by Western governments.

It also marks a step forward for Kyiv, as both sides have been caught in a long and taxing battle for control of the key southern region.

Zelensky was reluctant to offer details on his administration’s plans to retake Kherson, but said: “These planned military actions, they are discussed in a small circle, but then they’re executed in silence. And I really want to have an unpleasant surprise for the enemy, and not something they are prepared for.”

In the past month, Putin has dealt with decreasing military supplies, plummeting morale among Russian troops and increased isolation from world leaders, while Zelensky has worked to counter an onslaught of deadly strikes wiping out large parts of Ukraine’s energy infrastructure.

With no end to the conflict in sight, Zelensky told Amanpour he has not ruled out peace negotiations with his counterpart in Moscow.

“Other than ultimatums, I’ve not heard anything from the current president of the Russian Federation,” he said.

“But I haven’t closed the door. I said we would be ready to talk to Russia – but with a different Russia. One that is truly ready for peace. One that is ready to recognize that they are occupiers … They need to return everything. Land, rights, freedom, money. And most importantly, justice.

“And so far, I haven’t heard statements like that from the Russian Federation – either from Putin or from anyone else.”

08 zelenskys interview

Anton Kulakowskiy

When the Kremlin launched its brutal assault on Ukraine in February, Zelensky perhaps did not envision being at the center of Europe’s biggest conflict in decades nearly nine months later.

“You asked whether I thought this war would last so long. No, because I didn’t start this war. And I’m sure there isn’t a single Ukrainian who knew what this will be – and what tragedy this would bring to every home in our country,” he said.

“But Ukrainian society united, and showed that it was ready for what unfortunately was such a tragedy.”

The conflict in Ukraine has shaken global economies, exacerbated world hunger and inflamed a refugee crisis in Europe, but for the Ukrainian president and the first lady the reality of war at home is ever present.

There have been nearly 6,500 civilians killed since the war began, including 403 children, according to recent figures from the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (OHCHR).

Meanwhile, humanitarian bodies have accused Moscow of human rights violations amid mass relocations of civilians, including children, from Ukraine and allegations of sexual violence against women in occupied regions.

“It’s a big tragedy that our children are being taken away to Russia. There’s a large number of children who our social services lost connection with, and we can’t find them,” Zelenska said.

“As regards helping those children who suffered psychologically from the horrors of war. Now there’s hundreds of these children already. And we can’t even imagine what those children suffered, who had to bury their own mother in the yards of their homes, who saw their relatives murdered, who stayed in the basements of Mariupol. We can only observe them and try to help.”

01 zelenskys interview

Anton Kulakowskiy

Zelenska said that she is working on a national mental health program in order to provide psychological support for children. She also nodded to the role women have played in the war, adding that almost 40,000 women have volunteered to join the armed forces.

“These are the women who chose the path of the military in wartime – not in peacetime.”

“This whole war, it continues our path towards gender equality. And we’ve already made great strides in this.

“This war is as equal as Ukrainian society. I’m certain that after the war, women’s rights will be even stronger. We’ve already made strides, and we already have women generals.”

Zelensky added: “Bravery has no gender.”

Looking forward, Zelensky said Kyiv needs “security guarantees” from the global community in order to maintain momentum in the war and uphold Ukrainian independence from Russia, as well as repeating his desire for Ukraine to join NATO.

“There is only one goal (from Russia): to destroy our independence. There’s no other goal in place. That’s why we need security guarantees. … And we believe we have already demonstrated our forces’ capability to the world.”

Zelensky portrayed the conflict in contrast to the first days of the Covid-19 pandemic, “when people didn’t know what to do about it, when we needed to create a vaccine and it didn’t exist. There is a vaccine against Russian strikes, and we know it.”

Military and rescue workers take cover as a building in Ukraine's capital is rocked by explosions during an early morning drone attack on October 17.

When asked how many weapons Ukraine needed, he responded: “The answer is fairly simple. It’s enough when you can no longer hear explosions. It’s enough when the air defense systems ensure no missiles hit the ground or buildings.”

The president was echoing his wife, who said that Ukraine will need support from Western allies until the missiles “stop coming.”

“When they stop coming, when our people stop dying in their beds in the morning, I will feel, okay, maybe that’s enough,” Zelenska said. “But we can’t wait for Russians to run out of their supplies.

“It’s hard to live under this burden every day, when you don’t know what will happen tomorrow, when missiles hit the crossroads while people are driving to work, and get killed on the way,” she added.

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Analysis: Russia“s planned Kherson retreat a double-edged sword for Kyiv

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When Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelenskiy addressed his nation after Russia said it planned to withdraw its forces from the west bank of the River Dnipro in southern Ukraine he betrayed few signs of relief.

Besides suspecting that Russia may be laying a trap for his forces, his downbeat demeanour on Wednesday evening may reflect what Western military and diplomatic sources say looks like a bittersweet moment for Kyiv.

If it happens, the planned retreat could make life easier for the Russian army, in some respects, and harder for Ukraine.

“On the one hand, this is obviously a Ukrainian victory and a sign of big weakness on Russia’s part,” said Konrad Muzyka, a Polish military analyst who recently returned from Ukraine.

The withdrawal would bring Ukrainian forces closer to Crimea, the Black Sea peninsula that Moscow annexed in 2014 and which Kyiv says it aims to retake, and would appear to end Russian dreams of extending a contiguous land corridor westward to other Ukrainian coastal cities or to Moldova.

But Muzyka said falling back was also the only right military decision for Russia to take because its forces on the western side of the Dnipro were too exposed, over-stretched and under-supplied, a position he called unsustainable.

“If the Russians withdraw now, not only will they have more forces to prepare the defences of the eastern bank of the river, but they will also have some forces to actually move around and deploy to other areas (of Ukraine),” he said, saying it could take weeks for Moscow to complete its withdrawal.

Ben Barry, a senior fellow for land warfare at the International Institute for Strategic Studies in London, noted what he called an element of “realism” in Russia’s strategy following the appointment last month of a new overall Russian commander in Ukraine, General Sergei Surovikin.

“It’s definitely a turning point, but it doesn’t mean that Russia has lost or that Ukraine has won,” said Barry, who said Moscow was still capable of taking the initiative if it could regroup for a fresh offensive or mount decisive counterattacks.

“It is far too soon to write them off.”

The choreographed and blunt way that Russia announced its plans to retreat contrasted sharply with the way it presented its two big earlier reversals – its flight from Kyiv in March and from the Kharkiv region in the north-east in September.

Back then, the defence ministry spoke of “goodwill gestures” and of tactical “regroupings” after its forces had been beaten back.

This time, the announcement was made on state TV by a depressed-looking Sergei Shoigu, the defence minister, and the plain-speaking Surovikin, and while Russia still held the territory it said it planned to cede, albeit under pressure.

Both men publicly accepted that Russia’s position in Kherson had become untenable.

President Vladimir Putin, Russia’s commander-in-chief, was conspicuous by his absence, a move that some analysts said was designed to distance him from a difficult decision that the Kremlin had decided the military should own.

Regardless of any potential military upside, retreat would represent a humiliating defeat for Russia’s political and military leadership.

The withdrawal, the latest sign that what Moscow calls its “Special Military Operation” is faltering badly, would mean handing back the city of Kherson, founded during the Russian Empire era by Empress Catherine the Great.

Kherson is the first and only regional capital Moscow’s forces have captured, at great cost, since their Feb. 24 invasion. Not long ago it was plastered with billboards proclaiming it would be with Russia forever after Putin announced he had annexed Kherson and three other regions.

Getting its troops – estimated to number some 30,000 men – back to the eastern bank of the Dnipro will not be easy for Russia either, given Ukraine has damaged or destroyed all the bridges across it, forcing Moscow to rely on night-time ferries in range of Ukrainian rockets.

For now, it’s unclear how and when Russia will conduct any fall back and what price it will try to extract in the process from Ukraine, which fears retaking a booby-trapped city and the possible blowing up of a dam on the Dnipro.

But if Russian forces do make it to the eastern bank largely intact with some of their hardware, they would be able to use the natural barrier of the river to dig in on a side, where they have already dug trenches, while keeping the city of Kherson in range of their own artillery.

The dearth of any safe working bridges able to transport military hardware would then become Ukraine’s problem.

Muzyka and Barry both said that falling back to the eastern side of the Dnipro would allow Russia to shorten the frontline it has to defend and to free up more troops.

Anthony Brenton, Britain’s former ambassador to Moscow, said Russia had prepared the ground for an eventual retreat from the Dnipro’s west bank for some time and that it clearly hoped to buy time to try to regroup over the winter.

“It’s a rational thing to do as Kherson was no longer defensible. The Russians are still gambling on getting themselves together militarily” by the end of the winter, he said.

Despite all their setbacks, Brenton said he thought the Russians still hoped to hang on to Crimea – which he said Moscow cared about most – along with the land corridor they have carved out connecting it with Russia and continued access to Ukrainian water needed for Crimea, plus as much as the Donbas part of eastern Ukraine “as they could grab”.

“I suspect that at the top they would quite like an outcome that leaves them roughly where they are, which they’re not going to get,” said Brenton, who said he believed the Russians understood that they would ultimately need to strike a deal even if such a prospect seemed remote for now.

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Civilians evacuated from the Russian-controlled part of Kherson region of Ukraine arrive at a local railway station in the town of Dzhankoi, Crimea November 10, 2022. REUTERS/Alexey Pavlishak

Ukrainian soldiers from the 28th brigade say that they advance towards Kherson in South-east of Posad-Pokrovske, Kherson Oblast, Ukraine November 10, 2022 in this screen grab obtained from a video. Video obtained by Reuters/Handout via REUTERS

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Wall Street soars on sign of cooling inflation

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Raindrops hang on a sign for Wall Street outside the New York Stock Exchange in Manhattan in New York City, New York, U.S., October 26, 2020. REUTERS/Mike Segar/File Photo

Wall Street surged on Thursday, with the Nasdaq up over 6% as a sign of slowing inflation in October sparked speculation that the Federal Reserve might scale back its aggressive interest rate hikes.

The S&P 500 (.SPX) and Nasdaq (.IXIC) were on track for their biggest daily percentage gain since April 2020 as the latest consumer price data cheered investors worried that ongoing interest rate hikes could hobble the U.S. economy.

One-time Wall Street darlings tarnished in 2022’s bear market were among Thursday’s strongest performers, with Nvidia (NVDA.O) surging over 11%, Meta Platforms (META.O) jumping almost 8%, and Alphabet (GOOGL.O) up more than 6%.

The Labor Department’s data amounted to a strong sign that price pressures may be starting to subside, with the annual CPI number below 8% for the first time in eight months.

“This is a big deal,” said King Lip, chief strategist at Baker Avenue Asset Management in San Francisco. “We have been calling the peak of inflation for the last couple of months and just have been incredibly frustrating that it hasn’t shown up in the data. For the first time, it has actually shown up in the data.”

Growing recession worries have hammered Wall Street this year. The S&P 500 (.SPX) remains down about 18% year to date, and it is on course for its biggest annual decline since 2008.

The inflation data prompted traders to adjust their rate hike bets, with odds of a 50-basis point rate hike in December jumping to about 85% from 52% before the data was released, according to the CME FedWatch tool.

San Francisco Fed President Mary Daly and Dallas Fed President Lorie Logan welcomed the most recent inflation data, but warned that the fight with rising prices was far from over. Inc (AMZN.O) surged more than 11% after the Wall Street Journal reported that the e-commerce heavyweight was reviewing unprofitable business units to cut costs.

The CBOE volatility index (.VIX), also known as Wall Street’s fear gauge, fell to a near two-month low of 23.19 points.

In afternoon trading, the S&P 500 was up 4.59% at 3,920.58 points.

The Nasdaq gained 6.17% to 10,992.04 points, while the Dow Jones Industrial Average was up 3.04% at 33,503.45 points.

All 11 S&P 500 sector indexes rose led by information technology (.SPLRCT), up 6.88%, followed by a 6.85% gain in consumer discretionary (.SPLRCD).

The Philadelphia semiconductor index (.SOX) surged x%, cutting its loss in 2022 to about 33%.

Some investors also urged caution that Thursday’s rally may be overly optimistic.

“The market is – as it has been a few times this year – very eager to trade a ‘Fed pivot’ … but we think the market is getting a little ahead of itself based on one print,” said Zach Hill, head of portfolio management at Horizon Investments in Charlotte.

The PHLX Housing index (.HGX) jumped 9.6% to its highest since August after tumbling this year over concerns about higher mortgage rates denting affordability.

Rivian Automotive Inc (RIVN.O) jumped 18% after the electric-vehicle maker reported a smaller-than-expected loss, higher number of pre-orders and reaffirmed its full-year production outlook.

Advancing issues outnumbered falling ones within the S&P 500 (.AD.SPX) by a 13.3-to-one ratio.

The S&P 500 posted 17 new highs and no new lows; the Nasdaq recorded 102 new highs and 143 new lows.

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How local leaders can prepare a workforce of the future: Three takeaways from the Transforming Cities Lab

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By Lavea Brachman, Malia Xie

Despite the massive volume of funding currently flowing from multiple federal bills passed to invest in place and the national economy, officials in Washington, D.C. acknowledge a relatively small portion is directly earmarked for workforce training systems. This is despite the fact that high-functioning workforce training systems are core to enhanced economic mobility and community wealth-building.

In this period of tight labor markets and changing in-demand skills, there is a strong imperative to generate as large and nimble a workforce as possible. Doing so not only would address unfilled pre-pandemic jobs, but also fill the many jobs being created with new infrastructure investments and place-based expansions in advanced manufacturing and tech-based growth sectors (e.g., semiconductor and electric vehicle industries), among others. An unusual window of opportunity now exists for local, regional, and state workforce development leaders to upgrade and transform their training programs and talent pipelines—or risk falling behind. Systems that remain stuck in the status quo will fall short of meeting new employment needs and lose out in this competitive environment.

With this in mind, Brookings Metro recently assembled four top federal officials for a cross-agency discussion focused on the recent federal bills (the American Rescue Plan Act, Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, CHIPS and Science Act, and Inflation Reduction Act) and their impacts on workforce development systems across the country. Convened as part of Metro’s Transforming Cities Lab, federal officials from the U.S. Departments of Labor, Commerce, Energy, and Transportation discussed their inter-agency efforts to streamline workforce funding and enable regional workforce leaders to better prepare workers for new jobs created by historic levels of federal investment.

Three takeaways on the transformation of workforce systems and talent pipelines

Despite better alignment at the federal level on outcomes and priorities, a lack of coordination on funding delivery poses a host of practical challenges on local and state workforce entities, on top of the many normal bureaucratic burdens often synonymous with federal funds. Moreover, the new federal resources explicitly dedicated to workforce entities and workforce development are woefully insufficient. For instance, in the Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act (IIJA), only a few relatively small grants are dedicated to workforce funding. This means that, generally, investing in workforce is permissible but not explicit—so it will be up to eligible local transportation agencies and infrastructure entities (e.g., utilities) to allocate resources in the workforce area.

During the Transforming Cities Lab panel, Kevin Gallagher, senior advisor to the secretary of the Department of Commerce, acknowledged the difficulty of navigating multiple federal funding

streams, but also their powerful potential for spurring innovation and change: “Each of these programs has its own statutory authorization, own requirements, own timelines. Much of this funding has come in waves…and I don’t think that in and of itself is new. What I would say is new…is the level of consistency and prioritization” around quality job creation, enhanced workforce partnerships and plans, and diversity and equity.

As workforce system leaders seize this chance to reimagine and strengthen their systems, three takeaways from the Transforming Cities Lab panel can guide them: 1) collaborate through silo-busting; 2) plan for the long term; and 3) innovate and build on existing assets and relationships. Cutting across these takeaways is centering diversity and equity, as well as increasing access to training programs that set workers up for both employment now and further career opportunities in the long term.

Collaborate through silo-busting

To take full advantage of the new funding as well as the opportunities for innovation, workforce agencies will need to collaborate both vertically and horizontally in new ways. This requires the breaking down of traditional government and policy silos that interfere with pursuing larger, common goals.

Competitive grant funds are the main avenue for federal officials to fund workforce efforts, and the Department of Transportation will disperse about $125 billion in competitive grants (of their total $650 billion in the IIJA). The department aims to use these grants to enhance regional collaboration and undertake the “silo-busting” needed to achieve the increased collaboration and planning that these new circumstances and funding call for.

Much of this funding will pass through states. However, labor markets are regional in nature, which means that states are not the ideal geography in which to undertake workforce planning. Stronger vertical relationships—between state and local governments and nonprofits—will therefore be crucial, as local governments and nonprofits are ultimately better positioned to generate effective programs that can lead to long-term impacts.

Furthermore, typical regional workforce planning efforts do not have the resources for full wraparound services, which are critical for low-income residents to access quality jobs. States can use their own resources to support wraparound programs that may not be eligible for federal funding, but can also enhance the outcomes of these efforts by making them more appealing for competitive federal dollars overall. These wraparound programs (e.g., child care, career counseling) remove barriers for certain populations, setting them up to participate in skill-building and the talent pipeline.

Silo-busting also needs to occur horizontally, among unions, nonprofits, transportation agencies, other infrastructure employers, and the public sector. For instance, the IIJA is funding billions of dollars of infrastructure projects, primarily overseen by local and state transportation

agencies that have rarely, if ever, needed to coordinate directly with state and local workforce agencies or departments. And states can deploy some tools to encourage more horizontal integration, such as including local workforce considerations in infrastructure initiatives or funding workforce planning initiatives.

Such multi-stakeholder processes are challenging, but not impossible. In Ramsey County, Minn., for instance, the local workforce board is leveraging its Construction-Green Jobs Committee, chaired by the Saint Paul Building and Construction Trades Council and comprised of both union and non-union representatives. The committee is assessing the ecosystem from a broader perspective to reimagine a better and more sustainable economy and agree on fundamental principles to support strong and equitable programs, such as the Inclusive Construction Training Program, which utilizes new federal funding opportunities.

During the panel, Betony Jones, director of the Office of Energy Jobs at the Department of Energy, endorsed this type of coordination among stakeholders spanning workforce and infrastructure: “Twenty percent of the [competitive grant] points are set aside for plans that address quality job creation, workforce partnership, diversity, equity, inclusion, and access…Applicants are much less likely to receive DOE funding if they aren’t addressing those things.”

Plan for the long term

The COVID-19 pandemic forced local leaders to craft emergency responses on very short timelines to utilize resources from the CARES Act and their first tranche of American Rescue Plan Act funding. Now, with large infrastructure grants, the multiyear timelines between when funding is awarded and project groundbreaking allow for longer planning times.

During the Transforming Cities Lab panel, federal officials advised local leaders to take the time to understand funding opportunities and how they can be paired with local labor force demands. They encouraged analysts to use data to plan backward—accounting for the attrition in workers predating the pandemic—while also looking forward to prepare their workforce for future opportunities created by new infrastructure projects. Lenita Jacobs-Simmons, deputy assistant secretary for the Department of Labor’s Employment and Training Administration, observed that the department is working with the Commerce and Transportation departments and “want to see state and local workforce plans incorporate these funding opportunities, infrastructure initiatives, commerce initiatives, and sector strategies.”

Longer time horizons create more possibilities for upskilling and reskilling existing workers for new jobs and repositioning workforce training talent pipelines to serve workers and employers in an evolving job market. For example, programs could provide broad occupational training, so that electricians, pipefitters, or plumbers can convert their skills to solar installers in the energy sector and gain experience to boost their broader career pathway opportunities, including taking on management roles.

Innovate and build on existing assets and relationships

While there is time to plan, regional leaders do not have the time or resources to create everything from scratch. Leveraging existing programs and leaders in this space will be critical. Workforce boards are designed to house and lead multisector collaboratives that address workforce needs holistically, such as what the Workforce Innovation Board of Ramsey County, Minn. (in partnership with the city of Saint Paul) or EmployIndy (serving Marion County, Ind.) have been doing. Transportation authorities as well as utilities and other infrastructure employers also hold significant power through their funding flows and roles as employers, and thus can exert meaningful influence on the workforce system. For instance, if more transportation entities were to adopt policies that required a minimum percentage of their workforce to come through registered apprenticeship programs or implemented local hiring preferences, it could reap positive rewards for the system overall.

While funded projects will have lasting impacts on communities, equally important are the partnerships that will outlast the funding and changes in administrations. The Transforming Cities Lab panelists talked of how they are working to institutionalize the more collaborative way they are working across agencies. Similar to this federal-level collaboration, states and local governments can also build relationships that outlast any one project and become the basis for redesigning their approach to future complex, large-scale projects that require buy-in from a range of stakeholders.

Scaling a workforce system takes immense capacity that many smaller localities simply do not have. To reach all communities in equitable ways, states, counties, and metropolitan planning organizations need to step in to provide added capacity in the places that currently have the fewest resources to apply for funding and meet compliance expectations. Each state has infrastructure coordinators. What would it look like for counties or regions to create similar local coordinator roles?

Workforce is a shared responsibility and can be a powerful connector. A spectrum of workforce system players should be brought to the table—not just because of the resources they bring, but more importantly, because of the connections they facilitate. Coming together now ensures that the nation is prepared for this rare opportunity to improve its infrastructure, advance clean energy, and enhance the lives of the millions of workers who will do this work.

This blog previews themes reflected in a forthcoming report from Metro colleagues identifying workforce funding streams embedded in the federal legislation.

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Interrogations, Electric Shocks, Detention—This Is What Russian Occupation of Ukraine Looks Like

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When the Soviet Union still existed, Anatolii Harahatii made his career as a photographer in the small village of Savintsi in northeastern Ukraine. Snapshots of him as a younger, sharply dressed man appear on many surfaces in the cozy, one-story house he shares with Natalya, a former nurse and his wife of over 40 years. In photos from just a few years ago, he appeared happy and healthy, posing with Natalya and their two adult children.

As was the case for most Ukrainians, Anatolii’s life was forever upended on February 24 when Russia launched its full-scale invasion of their country, and by early March troops had occupied Savinsti. Russia’s goal, which its government justified with an often head-spinning mix of falsehoods, was nothing less than to topple Ukraine’s democratically elected government and install a puppet regime in its place. As Ukrainian resistance proved to be more formidable than Putin had anticipated, Russian troops escalated their attacks on private citizens. Anatolii was one of them. 

Anatolii intensely followed the frightening and chaotic news of the early days of the war. Several months later, we sat in his kitchen, as he recalled seeing the news of grandmothers standing up to Russian armored columns, blocking their path as they tried to make their way through small villages across Ukraine.

“It was heroism,” Anatolii told me, referring to the Ukrainian civilians’ attempts to physically block Russian tanks with their bodies. When he awoke one morning, he decided to find the columns of tanks, which he filmed. He then posted the footage online.  At the end of May, Russian soldiers in masks, likely intelligence officers, arrested the 68-year-old pensioner. They considered his act of filming the tanks dangerous, likely due to the information it might provide to others in Ukraine, and believed he was in some way acting against the Russian authorities. 


Sam Skove

He was imprisoned for weeks, and tortured by beatings and electric shocks as his captors tried to elicit information since the Russians believed he had been telling Ukrainian troops their positions. Sometimes, it was punishment for saying some Ukrainian words rather than Russian ones as he was being interrogated. Anatolii, like many Ukrainians, speaks both languages.

At some point in the summer, likely in June, Russian intelligence officers presented Anatolii with a choice. He could record a video in front of a bombed house in which he would blame Ukraine for the damage and praise Russian President Vladimir Putin. Or he could be shot.

Beaten to a pulp and fearful for his life, Anatolii agreed to make the video and was returned to his cell in the former police station where he was incarcerated with six other Ukrainian prisoners. After a sleepless night, he decided that he couldn’t betray Ukraine. Acquiescing to Russian demands would stain his soul forever. He resigned himself to death.

The next day, he told the officers that he had changed his mind. “Ok, get ready, we’ll shoot you in an hour,” he said they told him. He waited an hour for his execution, then a day, then ten. In three weeks, they once more offered him the chance to appear in the video. Again, he refused. “Then you’ll sit here forever,” they warned.

Photo of a young Anatolii.

Sam Skove

Forever turned out to be 100 days, from May to September 4th, far longer than the average 30 to 40 days that others served—based on interviews with those who had been held and their acquaintances. The prison was never empty. When some prisoners left, others would arrive. At some point, he was told he would be released if he agreed to be filmed saying that he thought Stepan Bandera—a Ukrainian nationalist from World War II and after, heralded by some and despised by others—was not a hero of Ukraine. He agreed on the condition that it not be published online. Nevertheless, he had to wait several more weeks before being released, and even then, it’s not clear why.

During this time, Ukraine’s outgunned forces gradually brought Russian forces to a standstill throughout the eastern part of the country. As the US ramped up the supply of weapons, the tide slowly turned in Ukraine’s favor. On September 6th, two days after the Russians freed Anatolii, the Ukrainian army counterattacked and rolled back Russian forces all the way to the Russian border, freeing some 3,000 square miles of territory. After seven months of occupation, Savintsi was free.

Sitting at his kitchen table recounting his story, Anatolii frequently broke into tears. At one point his emotions proved too much for him, and he reached for Natalya who was standing nearby. “Everything will be alright,” she murmured as she held him.

I arrived in Ukraine in late July to cover the war, and on September 12 came to the frontline city of Kharkiv, to cover the historic liberation of the territory. I then spent several days driving and hitchhiking around the town of Balakleya, about a two-hour drive from Kharkiv, and everywhere I went, I was told story after story about imprisonment and torture by the Russians.

If anything, the people with whom I spoke were just at the edge of a dark shadow cast by Russia’s occupation. According to a recent United Nations report on Russian war crimes committed from February to March, the UN had identified many instances of Russian forces executing, raping, and torturing Ukrainians. These included the regions of Kyiv, Chernihiv, Sumy, and Kharkiv, where I was based. The occupation from March to September is only now being investigated.  

The UN report comes after widespread earlier reporting about Russian war crimes in the northern Kyiv suburb of Bucha, which Russia occupied in March during its attempted assault on the capital. When Russian forces pulled back, news outlets and human rights advocacy groups found numerous instances of Russian soldiers executing, torturing, and raping civilians and prisoners of war. A total of 458 bodies were eventually found. Richard Weir, a researcher for the advocacy group Human Rights Watch wrote in a report, “The evidence indicates that Russian forces occupying Bucha showed contempt and disregard for civilian life and the most fundamental principles of the laws of war.”

Ukrainian authorities have said that 30 bodies buried in a mass grave of over 400 people near the Kharkiv-region city of Izyum, occupied by Russia in April, showed signs of torture—some of the victims’ hands were tied behind their backs.

The first step of Russian intimidation in the towns and villages of Kharkiv region was to detain residents suspected of anti-Russian activity in sub-prisons, usually improvised in regional government buildings like schools or village halls. The next step was to move them to the cells in the police station in Balakliya.  It’s unclear how many people were detained, but likely hundreds, as prisons were located in the regional towns of Balakliya and Izyum, and Balakliya detained a rotating population of 30 to 40 prisoners, according to Anatolii.

Stolen car with Russian “Z” markings.

Sam Skove

I went to the stately old village hall of Savintsi. In the front yard, two civilian cars marked with a “Z,” a symbol of Russian occupation forces, were parked. The cars, as well as one strip of body armor, were abandoned by Russian forces in their rush to escape the Ukrainian army’s blistering advance. I met the village administrator Irina as she sorted through papers in a high-ceiling second-floor office. She had spent months hiding from Russian occupation forces, who had kept prisoners in the cellar, she said, before transferring them to the central prison in Balakliya.

“I stayed in my house so they wouldn’t put me in the cellar.”

Unlocking the cellar door, she showed me the cramped, windowless conditions where captives were held. Prisoners would have had just enough room to stand up in an area crisscrossed by utility pipes. “I stayed in my house so they wouldn’t put me in the cellar,” she said. While it’s unclear who exactly was managing the prison system, Irina said that Ukrainian soldiers had told her officers from Russia’s Federal Security Service, or FSB, had been working out of the building. The FSB is Russia’s chief internal security agency and is notorious for its role in crushing political dissent.

In determining who to arrest and torture, Russian forces clearly focused in part on former members of Ukraine’s armed forces or their families. I spoke with a number of people who had been imprisoned or whose family members were. One of them was Oleksandr, a former sergeant in Ukraine’s army. He was lured out of hiding by the Russians after they detained his 28-year-old son. Oleksandr was imprisoned first at a school in the village of Verbivka, then moved to the police prison cells at Balakliya. He told me that he spent around 30 days being electrocuted and beaten by teams of four Russians, who he identified as FSB officers. As with Anatolii, he said that officers remained in masks and never said their names, with the exception of one who went by the name of Robinson.

At one palatial Swiss chalet-type estate on a scenic river bank, local residents said, Russian officers commandeered a house and used it to party late into night. “They would sing Russian songs,” Nikolai, a neighbor who lived several doors down, recalled. They did more than that as well, he said. A local Ukrainian would bring prostitutes to the building to entertain the officers. When visited several days after the liberation, multiple beds could be seen throughout the house, including in the kitchen and the basement. Three residents reported hearing of different cases of sexual assault in Balakliya at large, although none could be confirmed.

Brothel house.

Sam Skove

Brother beds

Sam Skove

Other residents reported that entire families with ties to the military were collectively punished. One teenager in Balakliya who asked not to be named said that his friends had been taken for periods of 30 days because their fathers served in Ukraine’s army. Vadim, a villager in Savintsi said that he heard that a man named Sergei had been kidnapped and even taken back to Russia because two of his sons were in the military.

Russian forces did not just go after those with military ties though. Two individuals I spoke with appear to have been targeted for no clear reason. One of them was Zoya, a sixty-year-old woman who I met at her sister’s house in Savinsti. The house had its own complement of livestock—cows, pigs, and at least one cat. Dressed in a green vest, her hair in a gray bowl cut, her front teeth shining with gold, Zoya’s eyes flashed with apprehension when she saw my camera but eventually agreed to an interview. 

Zoya said that two men in masks came to her door one day looking for a woman named “Tamara.” Zoya, a rail-thin woman with a shy smile, was sure there was a mistake. The officers double-checked their documents. They had the right address, they said. Hoping to convince them of their mistake, Zoya ran back into the house and brought out her identity documents confirming she was not the mysterious Tamara. “Come with us and tell them there that you’re not Tamara,” she said they told her, assuring her that they would then bring her back home.

For the next 49 days, Zoya remained in jail, guarded at one point by bearded soldiers from Chechnya, an ethnic republic in Russia (with its own history of Russian aggression).  At first, Zoya attempted to explain to the guards that she must be there by mistake. Eventually, she stopped because it seemed to make no difference. She believes someone provided false evidence against her. When her Russian interrogators demanded that she “confess,” seeming to think she had some sort of connection to Ukrainian forces in the village of Andriivka, she says she had no idea what to say. 

Local administration prison.

Sam Skove

It’s unclear what specifically happened to Zoya while she was imprisoned. Sitting on a bench at her sister’s home in Savintsi, the crisp sunny day contrasts sharply with her fragile emotional state. Her eyes stared at an unseen middle ground and relatives frequently embraced her to reassure her. “They didn’t rape,” she said, “but all the rest…” Her voice trailed off.

Some of Zoya’s fellow prisoners were mothers whose sons were serving in the Ukrainian army. Like Anatolii, at least one of them was offered the chance of release in return for filming a video. But unlike Anatnolii, she took the offer and was freed. Zoya at first spoke with the other prisoners, but after time pretended to be mute, worried that the other prisoners were informing on her. Were it not for the Ukrainian army’s entry into Balakliya, Zoya would still be sitting there.

I encountered a similarly baffling story of arrest in the neighborhood of Lager, a section of Balakliya, where I met Viktor sitting outside his house on the road towards a former Russian base. Viktor, a 72-year-old businessman who proudly posed for his photo, told me how he was arrested shortly after returning home one morning. Maybe he was arrested for his money, he wondered, since he was well-known as a prosperous businessman in the town, at one point owning a Mercedes S-Class vehicle. Another possibility is that someone denounced him.


Sam Skove

Once when Viktor was interrogated, the Russians shocked him with an electric prod. Other prisoners, he said, were beaten so violently they lost teeth, allegations that both Anatolii and the ex-soldier Oleksandr corroborated with their own stories of beatings and the administration of electric shocks. After 12 days, during which he declared a hunger strike, the Russians released Viktor without any explanation. They also held onto his Ukrainian identity documents, taunting him by saying the Ukrainian government was not going to return to power.

Now the Russians have left Balakliya. Since it was occupied and liberated with minimal fighting, there are relatively few civilian casualties or damaged buildings in its wake, although there is the legacy of imprisonment and torture, plus petty theft by Russians and cutoffs to electricity, water, and heat. After 100 days in Russian captivity, Anatolii is now settling back into a life beyond the cell doors.

A man who once made business trips to Moscow for photography equipment, his voice rises in disgust as he declares he won’t speak Russian now. While being interrogated, the FSB would shock him for each word of Ukrainian he spoke, accusing him of being a “Banderite.” 

Stepping into the sun of the courtyard, he appeared to savor the moment, and yet it reminded him of his imprisonment. “We had only five minutes of sun,” he said, during the five months in the darkness of a Russian prison and occupation.

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Pathos and Panic: Russians Are Mobilized for an Undeclared War

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Editor’s note: This essay is anonymous in order to protect the writer from potential reprisals.

Russia is not at war, despite what you may have heard. Despite the mobilization of reservists, the stories and images of destruction and death, despite the refugees fleeing. Russia is not at war, as Dmitry Peskov, press secretary of the Kremlin stressed in a recent interview. Instead, it is conducting a special military operation “to fulfill certain goals in Ukraine.” Reservists have had to be mobilized for this special military operation, half a year since it began, because “we have been de facto confronted…with the NATO block and all its logistics capabilities.”

Referring to the Special Military Operation as war is still illegal in Russia, punishable by up to 15 years in prison. It also happens to be illegal to cross into the territory of a neighboring sovereign nation, armed, without a declaration of war. But while people do call the special military operation a war in casual conversations, they rarely question this operation’s legality: not even as men receive their mobilization notices, board buses, and head to the front.

But perhaps those who were mobilized will never cross international borders. By the time they reach the occupied territories, those territories will no longer be foreign—at least in the eyes of Russian law. For there is not only a mobilization drive at hand but also a referendum. People in the occupied territories have been asked to vote on whether to join Russia. Armed soldiers have gone door-to-door with ballot boxes. And on September 30, 2022, Putin welcomed the annexation of four Ukrainian regions as the “will of millions of people.”

Voting makes annexation look democratic.

Meanwhile, in Russia, mobilization has hit closer to home. And it comes with little ideological backing. In St. Petersburg, local newspaper headlines focus on pressing everyday questions: Who will be mobilized? Will the Finnish border close? What will the city budget look like in 2023? Or else they touch on polite distractions: news of the occasional train accident, or tips about how to lose weight. None of it would excite someone to go kill and die on the front lines.

The military draft is a two-step process. First, you are handed a draft notice and asked to sign acknowledging having received it. This is the first opportunity for people to dodge. If the draft officers can’t find you, they can’t give you the notice. But the receipt of the notice is only a summons to appear, and this opens a second gap within which people try to maneuver. This stage is more dangerous—any traffic stop, any random search in the metro, and you’ll come up in their system, be taken to the conscription office, and sent off to war.

Draft notices may be distributed at work, through state enterprises and private businesses. And these same organizations may also compile exemption lists of the employees they cannot do without. Water cooler talk this week has focused on how to get the most vulnerable on these lists, on how to get them out of the country, or how to avoid receiving the dreaded notice in the first place.

There has been rioting in Dagestan, but here in St. Petersburg people are focused on fleeing and dodging. Women are afraid for their husbands, their sons, and their fathers. Our highest priority aboard this Titanic is not women and children, but men—getting them out of the country, on the lifeboats to Kazakhstan.

Faced with the draft, even former war hawks are turning. A retired cop from a mid-sized Siberian town, a friend’s dad, used to support this undeclared war. He watched Vladimir Solovyov, the ecstatic Goebbels of Russian State Propaganda, and repeated everything that he heard. When his Ukrainian friends called him to say that they were being bombed, he refused to believe them. And then the draft officers got him. “They got him outside, in the yard,” my friend tells me, in tears. “Mother told him not to go out there, but he didn’t listen, they gave him the notice …” She’s already contacted a lawyer. “Doesn’t he want to go?” I ask her. “Of course, he doesn’t want to go!” she says, crying. “But he’s a hunter. He’ll go live in the woods. He’s got a gun.” And, perhaps, Solovyov will be there with him on the portable television.

But other people are going. They are going even though the formal reasons given to justify this undeclared war are too abstract and nonsensical to mobilize anybody to fight.

At the celebratory annexation of Ukrainian territories, president Putin explained that Russia was standing up to colonial western aggression. He blamed the mysterious blasts that damaged the Nord Stream pipeline on “Anglo Saxon” sabotage. He insisted that Russia was fighting Satanism. Such vague conspiratorial statements have justified the “special military operation” since its inception. “We have no borders with Ukraine,” Vladimir Zolotov, Head of the National Guard, told the Security Council on the eve of the invasion. “Our border is with the Americans because they are the owners in that country. Everyone else there is their vassal.”

These sentiments are not uncommon: that NATO had planned to attack us, that the good people of Ukraine are held hostage by some inchoate Naziism, that Ukraine is and has always actually been part of Russia. But as reasons for war, they are abstract. They are not ideas for which people willingly go off to die.

Then why do they go? They go “for their own,” for those whom they cannot abandon.

In Tuva, a remote republic in Siberia, the regional government promises families of mobilized men one live sheep, 50 kg of flour, a bag of potatoes, coal, and “in cases of demonstrated need” an unspecified amount of cabbage.

When the draft was announced, mobilized men were promised 300,000 rubles (about $5,000) upon assignment, and their families were promised another seven million rubles (about $120,000) should they get killed. A week later, this legislation was quietly recalled. But a federal law granting the mobilized a moratorium on loan payments did pass the State Duma, and some regional governments implemented their own welfare programs. In Tuva, a remote republic in Siberia, the regional government promises families of mobilized men one live sheep, 50 kg of flour, a bag of potatoes, coal, and “in cases of demonstrated need” an unspecified amount of cabbage. For every child under the age of seventeen, a family receives another 5,000 rubles ($86). “It is important that mobilized men see their families receive this assistance before their deployment,” explained Vladislav Khovalyg, head of the Republic of Tuva, “so that they feel supported and leave with the feeling that their families are protected and will not be left without attention.”

The flip side of such benevolent policies is that families of the mobilized are expected to get them ready for the front. Soldiers are told to get their own gear: boots, backpack, socks, sleeping bag, headlamp, first aid kits—if possible, a good bulletproof vest. Online discussion boards are lively with panicked relatives asking where to buy the first-aid medicines that have sold out in local stores. Videos circulate online in which mobilized men are lined up in the barracks and told, “take care of yourselves, guys, because no one else is going to.” Among other things, they are told, “now don’t laugh—ask your wives and girlfriends to send you tampons, menstrual pads.” The tampons are for dressing wounds, in the absence of blood-stopping bandages.

In Russia, we do not abandon our own. This is the slogan under which this undeclared war is being conducted. And it rings true. “Well, the guys are all grudgingly for it,” say wives worried about their men being mobilized, “they have a men’s cult, you know, a battle brotherhood. They say, ‘Yeah we get it, but our guys have already been there three months with no end in sight. Gotta help the guys. Give them a breather’.”

Decades of WWII fetishism have a lot to do with this. As does a deeper collectivist social structure that makes it very easy to form social networks woven through the existing hierarchical strata, but nearly impossible to create social organizations that would directly oppose regulations and rules. Russia works by informal personal networks. People rely on them to get by in the face of dire poverty, and they use them to do good in the world: to help Ukrainian refugees flee to the EU through Russia, to send humanitarian aid to the occupied territories, to “support our guys” on the frontlines and in military hospitals. These informal networks unite people of different social statuses, income levels, and personal views. But they foreclose public discussions of “politics.” Improper political statements threaten to fry the whole network. They threaten to draw unneeded attention to informal ties in a way that puts everybody in danger. So the question of why we have invaded Ukraine—why we killed, destroyed, maimed, and occupied—this question is one that most people simply don’t openly pose.

On October 7, 2022, Vladimir Putin turns 70. His birthday isn’t widely anticipated—no billboards, no fanfare. It hangs in the air like a nervous rumor. What if he’d like some nuclear fireworks to mark his Big Day?

But even as people are wary of the draft and fearful of nuclear Armageddon, they do not organize political protests to end this “special military operation” and bring down the government that wields it. And not only because they fear the police. People in Russia do protest when they feel it is necessary. They protest corrupt local governance, or landfills being dug in their backyards. Sometimes these public actions turn violent, like the anti-mobilization protests in Dagestan have. But this undeclared war is not something that most people in Russia think to protest. The idea simply does not occur.

Is there hope? Perhaps it is with the enduring dignity of these mobilized middle-aged men, their friends, and their families. The internet is full of videos of them boarding the buses, piss drunk, getting into fistfights, asking who’s going to feed their wives and children once they get killed. On September 30, while members of Putin’s High Society celebrated the annexation of Ukrainian territories, a bus full of mobilized men flipped in Tatarstan. According to eyewitness accounts, one of the men threw himself on the steering wheel, drunk. Perhaps Putin’s poorly oiled military machine will choke on these fine everyday guys and finally sputter dead.

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