A Blog by Jonathan Low


May 16, 2022

Ukrainian Troops Push Russians Back Across Border

A symbolically important milestone - literally and figuratively. 

The broader significance is that Ukrainian forces may now threaten Russian supply lines into the Donbas. JL 

Chris Pleasance reports in the Daily Mail, image The Telegraph:

Ukrainian troops have reached the Russian border after successfully pushing Putin's forces away from the country's second-city of Kharkiv, as Putin's invasion continues to falter. Soldiers carrying a border marker painted in the colors of the Ukrainian flag and bearing the country's trident emblem filmed themselves planting the post somewhere along the frontier, to the north of Kharkiv. The footage was likely taken near Ternova - a town which Ukrainian troops entered on Saturday

Ukraine's Secret Weapon Is Its Collective Determination

Whether fighting or sewing or bandaging or cooking, Ukrainians have weaponized an intangible, collective unity of purpose that is as difficult to define as it is to defeat. And all the more powerful for that. JL   

Katija Petrowskaja reports in The Hive, image, The Telegraph:

The whole country is working like a beehive. Concrete support for people fighting, for people helping to help—that seems the ultimate choice. This is a substitution for hope, to act. It is not only because horror would swallow you if you were to stop, it is the decentralized initiative of survival. People are creating new supply systems and information networks, organizing evacuations, cooking for the army, buying medicine and supplying those who remain in occupied zones, rescuing pets and protecting monuments. The chain of deeds in a common endeavor has spread across Europe and beyond.

How Russians Stole $5 Mil In Ukraine Tractors - Which Were Then Remotely Disabled

Oops. The Russians who stole the tractors and combines are now trying to circumvent the remote protection while John Deere is working to make sure they dont succeed. JL 

Oleksandyr Fylypov and Tim Lister report in CNN:

Russian troops stole equipment from an Agrotek dealership in Melitopol, which has been occupied by Russian forces since early March. Altogether it's valued at nearly $5 million. The combine harvesters alone are worth $300,000 each. The machinery, which is equipped with GPS, meant that its travel could be tracked. (But) after a journey of more than 700 miles, the thieves were unable to use any of the equipment -- because it had been locked remotely. "The hijackers have found consultants in Russia who are trying to bypass the protection."

The Reason Russia's Ukraine Weaponry Losses Are Unsustainable

Russia is losing so much combat equipment and so many troops that it is close to a Lanchester Curve Law collapse, a set of differential equations that model the relative strengths and interaction of two opposing armies. 

This means Russia's losses in materiel and men are irreplaceable and the relative quality differential is declining for Russia. Which is why a growing number of analysts taking the diplomatic approach by saying it is unlikely to achieve its objectives may actually mean that, statistically speaking, it may already be destined to lose. JL

Trent Telenko reports in Twitter, image Oleksandyr Ratushniak, AP:

Russia is losing 2/3 of a battalion combat group of equipment a day. That's over 52.6 full battalion equipment sets out of the 120 initially sent into Ukraine. 43% of the total committed Russian mechanized combat vehicle fleet and likely the best 29% of the total Russian combat vehicle fleet have been destroyed or captured. Ukraine is losing one vehicle destroyed or captured for every 3.5 Russian vehicles. (And) 100 Ukrainians are generating the same combat power as 300 Russian troops. And this combat effectiveness value ratio is increasingly in Ukraine's favor over time.

Why Leaders Find Looser Return To Office Policies Improve Recruitment, Retention

Demand for talent has not abated despite the stock market decline generally and in tech specifically. Leaders of companies offering more flexible return to office policies are finding it has increased the number and enhanced the quality of people seeking jobs from them and making it easier to retain those tempted to leave.

For the time being, looser return to office policies provides a competitive advantage, which most leaders consider a strategic benefit which they embrace. JL

Katherine Bindley reports in the Wall Street Journal, image David Ryan, Boston Globe:

A competitive job market, plus the relative ease with which businesses adjusted to work-from-home over the past two years, has emboldened many professionals to say goodbye to offices permanently. Office mandates are proving to be recruiting opportunities for competitors: Airbnb announced employees could work from anywhere without taking a pay cut. In the three days following the announcement, the company’s careers page received around 800,000 visitors. Flexibility has become something companies need to hang on to talent. “It takes me half the time to recruit great people when I tell them they can work anywhere."

May 15, 2022

Why Russian Hackers Could Face War Crimes Charges For Ukraine Cyberattacks

The legal argument is that cyberattacks, often linked with actual military offensives, are war crimes, especially if they are indiscriminate or specifically target civilians as they appear to have done in Ukraine. JL 

Andy Greenberg reports in Wired:

Human rights lawyers and investigators sent a formal request to the the International Criminal Court (ICC) in the Hague. It urges the ICC to consider war crime prosecutions of Russian hackers for their cyberattacks in Ukraine. “We would like to make sure the court sees the cyber domain as an actual domain of warfare, because in this case, it truly is." Any cyber war crime charges should be in addition to, not instead of, charges for massacres, reckless killing of civilians, and mass deportations in Ukraine. The Kremlin's state-sponsored hackers have unleashed a campaign of destructive hacking against hundreds of Ukrainian targets, often carefully coordinated with physical military tactics.

How Big Guns and Small Drones, Ukraine's Innovative 1-2 Punch, Is Beating Russians

Ukraine is innovating the use of small commercial drones to provide targeting data to heavy artillery supplied by NATO to devastating effect on Russian troops. 

This is the first conflict in which such technologies are being combined in real world settings - and the impact is contributing to Russia's setbacks in Donbas. JL 

Patrick Galey reports in NBC News:

A combination of decades-old and cutting edge technology - heavy artillery and remote-controlled drones - is helping Ukraine’s army make inroads into Russia’s occupation. Ukrainian forces are harnessing drone technology to provide real-time surveillance data on Russian targets and fire their heavy weapons with unprecedented accuracy. Small teams of soldiers control the drones from off-road vehicles near the front line, relaying location and topographic data to artillery batteries via military channels on Telegram. UAVs are also being used to limit friendly fire and avoid collateral damage. Artillery coupled with the GPS and targeting data is likely to be decisive in the war’s outcome.