A Blog by Jonathan Low


Nov 29, 2023

Russian Major General of Its 14th Army Corps Blown Up By Landmine In Ukraine

Among the questions waiting to be resolved about the death of such a high-ranking officer is whether the mine that he struck and that killed him was Ukrainian - or Russian. JL 

Isabel Van Brugen reports in Newsweek:

A top Russian commander has died after being blown up by a landmine. Russian Major General Vladimir Zavadsky was the deputy commander of the 14th Army Corps of the Russian Armed Forces. Every loss of a top military officer creates a "temporary localized chaos" because their units "are not trained and even allowed to maneuver autonomously." Moscow has lost a large number of top generals and commanders in the conflict.

Ukraine Intelligence Chief's Wife Poisoned With Heavy Metals

Though accusations have not yet been brought, the use of poisonous chemical or radioactive agents to poison opponents is a hallmark of Russian policy. JL 

Marc Santora and Maria Varenikova report in the New York Times:

The wife of Ukraine’s intelligence chief has been poisoned and is recovering, an incident leading to widespread speculation Russia has stepped up targeting Ukraine’s leadership. Russia has a long history of using poison to eliminate enemies. In 2004, Viktor Yushchenko, the Ukrainian opposition candidate, developed painful conditions. Doctors in Vienna established he had been poisoned with dioxin. Two years later, former KGB agent Alexander Litvinenko died after poisoning by a rare radioactive isotope. Sergei Skripal and his daughter were poisoned with a nerve agent administered by Russia’s military. An investigation found 23 documented cases since 2014 (of) poisoning attempts by Russia.

Ukraine Big Guns, Drones Cause Russia's Cross-Dnipro Troops Refusal To Attack

The cross-Dnipro bridgehead is another sector of the front (Avdiivka being the most prominent) where murderous Ukrainian defenses have caused Russian troops to refuse orders to attack. 

The weather has also favored the Ukrainians over the Russians' ability to fight here, as it has further east. JL 

Stefan Korshak reports in the Kyiv Post:

Ukrainian Marines and supporting troops' artillery and rocket strikes are systematically destroying Russian artillery and troop concentrations. The Marines are being backed up by unprecedented numbers of civilian drones adapted for military use. Russia’s 810th Naval Infantry Brigade, geolocated in the Krynky sector, “refused to carry out an order to storm the Ukrainian positions on grounds of lack of coordination with artillery, bad weather conditions, and lack of intelligence data.” Wounded Russian soldiers were not immediately evacuated, harming unit morale.

Ukraine Uses Winter Storm To Gain Ground At Robotyne, Avdiivka

Ukrainian forces used the heavy snowfall and wind of the past few days to push back Russian forces around Avdiivka and Robotyne. It is significant is that the Ukrainans are more adept at maneuvering in the bad weather than are the Russians. 

The Ukrainian gains took back territory that Russia spent weeks - and thousands of lives - attacking, suggesting that Russian tactics remain less than optimal. JL

Mark Sumner reports in Daily Kos:

Over the weekend, a major winter storm spread across Ukraine. Bad weather affected all regions of the country, destroying Russian defenses in occupied Crimea. The storm wasn’t quite as bad along the Zaporizhzhia front. Thanks to the storm, surveillance drones were grounded. And Ukraine took that opportunity to claw back some ground. In addition to areas recently secured on the east and west side of the Robotyne, Ukraine advanced just above Novoprokopivka. At Avdiivka, Ukraine counterattacked, forcing Russia to retreat back to where they were Nov. 9. Even though both sides are heavily dependent on drones, Ukraine was apparently better able to operate in the snow and cold than Russia.

White And Asian Men Manage 93 Percent Of Venture Dollars. Is That Hurting Tech?

OpenAI announced new board members as part of its effort to return Sam Altman as CEO. One board member is young, one middle-aged-ish, and one is old. All are white men. That is what passes for diversity in tech and in the venture industry that funds it. OpenAI may add new seats, but many prominent women in tech say they don't want to join.

As many in tech and finance roll their eyes while reading this - if they even get past the headline - the issue is not simply 'fairness' or equity (not the stock appreciation kind). The challenge is that despite Altman's redemption being viewed - correctly - as the triumph of financial considerations over societal concerns, the future of such investment may be limited by increasingly unfavorable public perceptions which in turn influence public policy and the future of tech adaptation, to say nothing of what excluding over 50% of the planet's human minds might imply for optimization. JL 

Margaret O'Mara reports in MIT Technology Review:

Venture capital remains the tech ecosystem’s least diverse domain. White and Asian men manage 93% of venture dollars. The majority of venture capital firms still have zero women as general partners or fund managers. The US venture capital industry invested a record-breaking $329 billion in 2021. Only 2% went to startups founded by women. Less than 0.004% went to startups with Black female founders. The lack of investor and founder diversity determines who gets rich, shapes the problems technology companies solve, the products they develop, and the markets they serve.

Nov 28, 2023

Ukraine's Cross-Dnipro Offensive Has Disrupted Russians, Threatens Crimea

Ukrainian Marines on the east and south bank of the Dnipro are now only 43 km from Crimea. 

The Russians have been unable to prevent the Ukrainians from reinforcing and expanding their bridgehead as Ukraine's air defenses make it difficult for Russia to either redeploy troops in support or provide adequate air cover. JL 

Holly Ellyat reports in CNBC:

Ukraine’s river crossing appeared to catch Russia, which largely concentrated its forces in eastern Ukraine, unawares.“Our forces on the ground, on the left bank are just 70 kilometers [43 miles] from occupied Crimea, so that means we can move behind Russian forces, we can break up their logistics, and also we can move forward to the west and to the south to occupied Crimea, and they will have a huge problems because of that. Ukraine has made effective use of small attack drones, while Russian Air Force support of its troops is predominantly launched munitions from beyond the range of Ukraine’s air defences.”

Ukraine Is Deploying Hundreds of US AI, Other Experimental Technologies

Ukraine has become a laboratory for testing advanced technologies from AI to drones to intelligence derived from data science. 

And some of the most creative innovators have been the Ukrainians themselves. JL 

Frank Bajak reports in the Associated Press:

In Ukraine, NATO allies share intelligence from data gathered by satellites, drones and humans, some aggregated with software from U.S. contractor Palantir. Some data comes from Maven, the Pentagon’s pathfinding AI project (which) processes video from drones and now aggregates and analyzes a wide array of sensor- and human-derived data. AI has piloted pint-sized surveillance drones and has also helped organize logistics for military assistance from a coalition of 40 countries.